|Elizabeth Elias Huffman, Lily Knight |
and Ron Bottitta
Photo by Jenny Graham
Following in the wake of their summer hit, "The Octoroon," the Fountain Theatre returns to their indoor stage with a small cast and a lot of dialogue. The time is about now. Set on the eastern coast of 'that sceptered isle' where a nuclear tragedy has turned the world upside down. Nominated for Tony Awards in 2018, after its premiere at The Royal Court in London in 2016, Lucy Kirkwood's "The Children" may be a reaction to the Fukishima disaster in 2011. I'm unsure if a tsunami caused the issue discussed in the play or if some internal disaster created 'the ocean like boiling water' but, the business of how to save the planet lies at the heart of this interesting piece of theatre.
Rose (Elizabeth Elias Huffman), slightly in shock, stands with her nose bleeding by the door of the cottage where her friends, Hazel and Robin now live. Having surprised Hazel (Lily Knight) by showing up unexpectedly, Hazel had a surprise reaction. Now, Rose's nose is bleeding. (Reminder, don't go sneaking up on Hazel.) Rose has come to visit her old pals. Surprise! (With an agenda...)
Rose, Hazel and Hazel's husband, Robin (Ron Bottitta), had all worked at the local nuclear power plant that is now in serious trouble, cordoned off at a safe distance with few employees going in to help secure the problems there.
The farm that Hazel and Robin had 'retired' to has been irradiated by leakage from the plant. The farm is now radio active, but Robin heads back to the property daily to milk the cows and tend to basics there. Or, so he says.
Years ago.. before the problem, the three friends were engineers who kept the local nuclear power plant functioning. Now, the disaster has the plant and surrounding area cordoned off with 'no entry' zones and unless someone who knows the ropes at the damaged plant steps up, things will only get worse.
Lucy Kirkwood's three character play has a tinge of Albee: secrets and lies, hard feelings, an affair that is telegraphed by Rose's unusual familiarity with the cottage. She arrives with an offer for Hazel and Robin to step up to service... and duty. Who lives and who dies? Who cares enough to wade in and who stays behind? The ethics of responsibility and considering "The Children" lies at its core. The play makes each of us ask ourselves what would we do? What would I do, if I could save the children?
Odd embellishments like smoking and which loo to use for "Number One" or "Number Two" must mean something to Kirkwood. They seem superfluous to me. The challenge of British accents did not deter the press night audience from enjoying much of the dark humor. Strong performances and Simon Levy's direction keep the energy up and the minimal action plausible. An excellent set design by Andrew Hammer and lights by Christian V. Mejia are typically top notch.
The Fountain Theatre's continued dedication to challenging works and important theatre is only sullied by the most uncomfortable seats in the Entire Western World. This tiny space boasts beautifully designed and lighted sets. They hire professional actors. First cabin! It's time to figure out a way to not pack the audience in like sardines. Fortunately, the management has insisted on proof of health and facial coverings, which of course, is the right thing to do. The theatre does have nice new front doors, though! Now to the house!!??
by Lucy Kirkwood
Directed by Simon Levy
The Fountain Theatre
5060 Fountain Ave.
Los Angeles CA 90029
(Fountain at Normandie)
Performances: Nov. 6, 2021 – Jan. 23, 2022 (dark Dec. 20 – Jan. 7)
• Wednesday at 8 p.m.: Nov. 3 ONLY (preview),
• Thursday at 8 p.m.: Nov. 4 ONLY (preview),
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: Nov. 5 (preview), 12, 19, 26; Dec. 3, 10, 17; Jan. 14, 21 (dark Dec. 24, Dec. 31, Jan. 7)
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Nov. 6 (Opening Night), 13, 20, 27; Dec. 4, 11, 18; Jan. 8, 15, 22 (dark Dec. 25, Jan. 1)
• Sundays at 2 p.m.: Nov. 7, 14, 21, 28; Dec. 5, 12, 19, Jan. 9, 16, 23 (dark Dec. 26, Jan. 2)
• Mondays at 8 p.m.: Nov. 15, 22, 29; Dec. 6, 13, Jan. 10, 24 (dark Dec. 8, Dec. 20, Dec. 27, Jan. 3, Jan. 17)