The Children (Sydney Theatre Company/Melbourne Theatre Company)

ABR Arts is generously supported by ABR Patrons and Copyright Agency Cultural Fund.
Ian Dickson Wednesday, 04 April 2018
Published in ABR Arts

After the vast proportions of her 2013 play, Chimerica (seen here in 2017) – a multi-scene, huge-cast exploration of American–Chinese relations – Lucy Kirkwood’s The Children – a one-set, three-character play – might seem like something of a chamber piece. But if it is physically small in scale, thematically it is even more challenging.

It takes place in a dilapidated cottage on the crumbling east coast of England just outside the exclusion zone of a ruined nuclear power station. As the play begins, we see a woman attempting to staunch a ferocious nosebleed. This, we discover, is Rose, a nuclear scientist who used to work at the plant and who has unexpectedly appeared at the cottage of two erstwhile colleagues, Hazel and Robin. Kirkwood is adept at drip-feeding her audience relevant information and dropping hints like depth-charges which explode at the play’s climax, and she gradually reveals the details of the disaster. An earthquake followed by a tsunami echoes the Fukushima catastrophe, and the devastating results are much the same. Hazel and Robin have retreated from their ruined house to this cottage and are attempting to live as normal a life as possible in the circumstances. The super-efficient Hazel keeps the house running while Robin heads off each day, Hazel tells Rose, to tend their cows, stranded in the exclusion zone.

Read the rest of this article by subscribing to ABR Online for as little as $10 a month.

We offer a range of subscription options, including print, which can be found by clicking here. If you are already a subscriber, enter your username and password in the ‘Log In’ section in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

If you require assistance, contact us or consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Published in ABR Arts
Ian Dickson

Ian Dickson

Ian Dickson has degrees in drama from Yale and the University of New South Wales, and is the co-author of the musical Better Known As Bee.

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.