Theatre related stuff on TV and Radio May 28 - June 3
Theatre related stuff on TV and Radio June 5 - 8

It's not the Children's Children you really need to worry about


I'm beginning to get worried about how young people are portrayed in new plays. I mean they can't all be self-centred, self-important and, well, just down right rude, can they?

Matthew Dunster's play Children's Children is a good example. Effie, daughter of Gordon and Sally, fits the description perfectly but then she is surrounded by supposedly mature adults who all behave equally deplorably at some point.

Dunster's play is about friendship and loyalty tested through career success and failure. Michael (Darrell D'Silva) and Gordon (Trevor Fox) are long time friends. They went to drama school together with Michael's former wife Claire and Gordon's wife Sally (Sally Rogers) and were as thick as thieves.

We learn that Gordon initially had the career success but as his work dried up he was eclipsed by Michael who has ended up as popular Saturday night TV game show presenter.

Friendship is tested when Gordon asks Michael for a large sum of money to pay off his debts and set himself up in a gardening business. Meanwhile Gordon's demanding daughter Effie is pregnant by her struggling, documentary filmmaker boyfriend Castro (John MacMillan).

Almost from the outset it feels like this friendship is a tinderbox waiting to go up and when Michael has to deal with a crisis of his own the truth about the four's friendship - Claire having been replaced by second wife Louisa (Beth Cordingly) - begins to emerge.

Once again the Almeida has created a jaw dropping sets which at one point includes a swimming pool. And there isn't a weak performance among the cast - Emily Berrington is still at drama school so certainly a talent to watch.

My only slight niggles are with one or two moments that felt overly staged - Gordon's violent reaction towards Effie in the opening act an unnecessary moment of stripping off.

I'm also getting a little bored with evangelical greens popping up in modern plays. Castro gives a very impassioned speech about how energy companies are damaging the environment but no one listens because they find it boring. The speech did go on and well, yes, it was a bit boring - is that the point?

But these are just niggles. It is a fast paced, tense and engaging piece that is ultimately quite bleak in its portrayal of modern relationships and how they are valued. It toys nicely with audience loyalties and certainly had a lot of people talking afterwards. I'm going to give it four stars.

Children's Children runs at the Almdeida Theatre until June 30.