Matthew Dunster’s Children’s Children at the Almeida Theatre is a riveting piece of theatre and a must-see show this summer. The opening scene is set in a posh living room with plush purple sofas and a big sign in the background with the letters WOW. That set piece for me is no accident. It’s as if the scenery itself wants to state loud and clear that this play will have the “wow factor “. And it does.
The story is about long time drama school buddies Gordon (Trevor Fox ) a no-name actor and a super successful telly presenter, Michael( Darrell D’Silva). Gordon is up to his neck in debt and has come to ask for some help from his old friend. Meanwhile Effie (Emily Berrington) his superficial fashionista daughter is unfazed by her father’s problems and is more obsessed with her aspiring documentary film maker boyfriend Castro (John MacMillan ). However, not everything is as it seems for Michael either and his own life is about to take a turn for the worse.
This play is a revealing social commentary on the image-obsessed modern culture we live in and the skeletons we try to hide. Michael boastfully admits that since becoming a celebrity he has “exchanged his anonymity for cash ” but we know he loves the attention. At the same time, global and ethical questions come into play when Castro rants on about the devastating effects big oil is having on the Nigerian population all while trying to seduce, Louisa (Beth Cordingly) Michael’s wife.
Scene changes are marked by swinging bebop jazz and this choice makes perfect sense as there is an electro-charged energy which prevails throughout the play. The set is really well-done and there is a great attention to detail even down to the very bourgeois fridge. Confessional monologues are intermittently woven into the play allowing us to get deeper into the characters’ heads. While the plot twists and turns,the actors manage to bring the audience into the tumultuous lives of these characters and it feels like something or someone is going to snap at any minute !
The cast is outstanding. Newcomer, Emily Berrington, pulls off the stuck-up superficial princess without missing a beat. Trevor Fox plays the down and out actor with such desperation that he made me jump a bit out of my seat. Meanwhile both actors Darrell D’Silva and Sally Rogers who plays Gordon’s wife moved me almost to tears when all of the tension they’ve been carrying culminates into a passionate breakdown. D’ Silva also makes a seamless transformation right before our eyes and is almost unrecognisable towards the end of the play.
Children’s Children is on until June 30th. For more information on the show and to view a trailer visit http://www.almeida.co.uk/. Box Office 020 7359 4404 Almeida Street Islington, N1 1TA