Theatre review: Children’s Children at the Almeida Theatre

12:48 07 June 2012

Children

Children's Children at The Almeida Theatre. Photo by Johan Persson

JOHAN PERSSON

There’s much to enjoy in the Almeida’s latest, despite some questionable tangents

» Matthew Dunster’s ambitious new play Children’s Children centres on the changing fortunes of two best friends and their families.

TV star Michael (Darrell D’Silva) is the host of Saturday night game show What’s Mine Is Yours, a cheesy loud-shirted entertainer with a framed portrait of Brucie in his living room, and happily married to Louisa (Beth Cordingly).

Drama school pal Gordon (Trevor Fox) always thought he’d be the one to make it big; now he and wife Sally (Sally Rogers) are failed actors, and she and their daughter Effie (Emily Berrington) suffer the brunt of his jealousy and bitterness.

The couples are worlds apart and it’s not long before the cracks begin to show. The stage seems set for an exploration of friendship and the strain put on their relationships by their unequal lives – but Dunster has bigger ideas, taking the characters to unexpected and at times disturbing territory.

He throws a lot into the mix, veering from sex offences to environmental crises in the Niger Delta and Russia’s Sakhalin Island.

It’s a bold approach, particularly when he stops the action to allow Effie’s idealistic boyfriend Castro (John MacMillan) an extended diatribe against the world’s evils. He concludes “People don’t want to know about it because it’s boring” – is this a knowing jab at the audience who might well feel the play has begun to drag?

The play is weaker when it drifts into these areas, but the pace zips for the most part and there is much to enjoy when the focus is kept closer to home, with a funny and well-observed script matched by excellent performances. Berrington is often hilarious as self-obsessed model Effie, as she and Castro do their best to match their elders in the dysfunctional relationship stakes, while D’Silva and Fox offer deft portraits of the deeply unlikable men at the heart of matters.

Four stars

* At the Almeida Theatre in Almeida Street, N1, until Saturday June 30.

Sign up for our news alerts today!

Our editors' picks for the day's top news delivered to your inbox or phone.

Sign up for email alerts Sign up for mobile alerts
1
2 3 4 5 6
7

Latest Stories from SNAP.PA

Includes a ‘Reasons I want to marry Harry Styles’ journal. You have been warned.

Read more

Midsomer Murders’ Neil Dudgeon has admitted DCI Barnaby’s new baby daughter Betty is hard work.

Read more

Joaquin Phoenix has compared picking film roles to dating.

Read more

Promoted content

Valentine's Day Afternoon Tea

London Hilton on Park Lane is inviting couples to celebrate this Valentines Day over a deliciously romantic afternoon tea at Podium Restaurant and Bar. Taking inspiration from the highly popular Confessions of a Chocoholic Afternoon Tea, London Hilton on Park Lane presents the ultimate romantic afternoon out with its Valentine’s Day Afternoon Tea.

Established in 1987, Tucci is one of the North's premier stores for branded clothing, footwear and accessories.

Save up to 70% on designer brands for Men and Women, including G-Star, Diesel, French Connection, Firetrap and many more….our sale is now on.

Nothing says

iWOOT has a great selection of quirky Valentine’s Day gifts for every possible person and partner.

Top Stories

Quizzes

How well do you really know the Tube map?

Everybody thinks they know the Tube map but do you really?

Read more
[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]

It’s time to test your knowledge on the two London institutions: the Underground, and the boozer.

Read more
Adrian Chiles is no longer ITV's main man... so why not test your knowledge of some of his (and others') greatest gaffes? (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

With news of presenter Adrian Chiles’ sacking by ITV, it’s a good time to remember some of the most memorable punditry blunders.

Read more