The Children Review – Responsibility and Reparation

Elizabeth Elias Huffman, Lily Knight, and Ron Bottitta in THE CHILDREN - Photo by Jenny Graham
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In an era of climate change and a constant search for safe energy, Tony-nominated THE CHILDREN asks today’s big questions: What about the future? Do we have a personal responsibility for the direction the world takes? What kind of legacy will we leave behind? Does one generation owe anything the next? Playwright Lucy Kirkwood really nails it as she weaves the tale of three seniors who may have had a hand in the catastrophe which currently grips the world as we know it. Well-known for controversial plays that highlight our constant struggle with contemporary issues, the Fountain Theatre presents the Los Angeles premiere of THE CHILDREN.

Elizabeth Elias Huffman and Lily Knight – Photo by Jenny Graham

Robin (Ron Bottitta) and his wife Hazel (Lily Knight), two retired nuclear physicists, now live in a small cottage on the remote East coast of England since a nuclear disaster demolished their home and the life they knew. Their simple and uneventful life is upended when Rose, a former colleague, pays them a surprise visit after more than 20 years. Soon the quietly simmering pot begins to boil over as old secrets surface which may just drown the trio. And newer secrets that could lead to stunning life changes. Issues of responsibility and reparation will uncover new questions about the debt that one generation may owe the next – and how to settle the score.

Ron Bottitta and Elizabeth Elias Huffman – Photo by Jenny Graham

Director Simon Levy observes that the play “tackles these enormously important contemporary issues about our responsibility to the planet, to each other, to future generations, and grounds them in funny, complex, identifiable characters grappling with a moral dilemma that, quite frankly, all of us are confronting right now, in real time.” Fountain artistic director Stephen Sachs gets to the core of the quandary: “The moral dilemma is: what world are we leaving to our children?”

Elizabeth Elias Huffman and Lily Knight – Photo by Jenny Graham

Levy helms the production with attention to the small details which make up a life and define an individual. His honest approach to the fallible human beings involved allows the audience to identify with people as well as with philosophical issues. The talented cast does a superb job of turning a slice of ordinary life into a momentous moment in time as they breathe life into the characters and their story.

Andrew G. Hammer’s scenic design and Naila Aladdin Sanders’ costume design emphasize the everyday nature of life, even during a disaster. Christian V. Mejia’s lighting and Marc Antonio Pritchett’s sound play an important role in punctuating the spoken word. The entire cast and crew seem to understand and appreciate the apocalyptic and insoluble quality of these events and their consequences. THE CHILDREN comes along at the perfect time in our history and reflects the conundrums we all face daily. It’s no surprise that, in 2019, The Guardian placed THE CHILDREN on its list of “greatest theatrical works since 2000.” As an added bonus, the Fountain Theatre adheres to all COVID-19 safety protocols, including proof of vaccination and wearing a mask during the show.

Elizabeth Elias Huffman and Ron Bottitta – Photo by Jenny Graham

THE CHILDREN runs through January 23, 2022 (dark 12/20/21 to 1/7/22), with performances at 8 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Mondays, and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. The Fountain Theatre is located at 5060 Fountain Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90029. Tickets range from $25 to $45 with “Pay-What-You-Can” every Monday in addition to regular seating (subject to availability). For information and reservations, call 323-663-1525 or go online.

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