(*) Ewa Procter
“As Crianças” (“The Children”, in its original English title) was written in 2016 by young and prize-winning British dramatist Lucy Kirkwood. The play opened at the mythical Royal Court Theatre in London, a theatre where a large number of expressive young British authors were staged. “The Children” then continued to be produced in England, as well as in the United States. And now it arrived in Brazil!
The play tells us the story of three nuclear physicists who find themselves in an isolated house by the sea, a site that used to be bucolic but has since then been devastated by a nuclear accident. This kind of situation brings the audience food for thought, as nuclear accidents are something that has always been a worldwide fear!
On an individual level, the play discusses the connection between human beings and the passing of time, as well as their inventory on gains and losses; on a general level, it brings ethical discussions on the use of the planet’s resources, and thus one’s responsibility to future generations. Reparation and redemption are the themes of this play that shows the catastrophic results of interaction between mankind and nature.
A brief summary of the plot: retired physicists Daisy and Robin live alone in a barren part of the world that had been devastated by a nuclear accident. After an absence of almost forty years, Rose, a former colleague and friend, arrives with a mission that may forever change the lives of the couple. To complicate matters even further, in the past Robin had a love affair with Rose. The play goes through the gradual unveiling of the feelings of these three people. Slowly they start showing not only their personal problems, but
also their own deep ethical crisis in relation to their role in the society they live in.
In parallel to the nuclear question, the play goes through circumstances in the lives of the three characters – their relationship with their children (or their option for not having any), the fact that death is approaching, plus betrayal, omissions, fantasy and desire. It shows a major disaster that mirrors the small disasters in their lives.
The set by Julia Deccache and Rodrigo Portella is very simple. The floor is covered by fragments of grinded rock, evoking the arid universe of these three people. The set has very little furniture: just a large, long table and a few chairs.
Rodrigo Portella who directed “Os Insetos”, “Nerium Park” and “Tom Na Fazenda” (the latter, a Canadian play I reviewed for “The Umbrella” in December, 2017 when Portella won a large number of awards) has taken on this new challenge. His choice for directing “As Crianças” in a non-realistic way is an added bonus to this production. Portella says it brings a different dimension to the play, more open, more evocative, multiple, but at the same time, more personal for each member of the audience. Portella adds that the play discusses more than just the nuclear question. He believes that it provokes thoughts about the use of available resources. Also, Portella understands that Lucy Kirkwood wanted people to think about our responsibility to future generations. So, the main question of the play is whether saving the children from a catastrophic future is a heroic act, or an obligation.
The cast Analu Prestes (Daisy), Mário Borges (Robin), and Stella Freitas (Rose) have been partners for many years. They all took part in the first version of the famous “Aurora da Minha Vida” by Naum Alves de Souza,
together with Marieta Severo who is now a part of this new reunion, as she is having the play staged at her own theatre, the Teatro Poeira.
“As Crianças” opened on the 11th of January, an evening for guests only, and on the 12th for the general public. As I mentioned above, it plays at the Teatro Poeira, Rua São João Batista, 104 – Botafogo. Performances take place Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 09:00 P.M., and on Sundays at 07:00 P.M. Price of tickets is R$ 60,00 (sixty Reais) and R$ 30,00 (thirty Reais), the latter for students and senior citizens. Censorship is for young people, under the age of fourteen. Box office is open from 03:00 P.M to 09:00 P.M. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and from 03:00 P.M. to 07:00 P.M. on Sundays. The play lasts for 100 minutes. The Teatro Poeira seats one hundred and forty-five people. There is also a small café for snacks before the performance. Although there is no formal parking available, one can always count on a number of taxis waiting at the door, at the end of the performances.
The run of “As Crianças” is scheduled to finish on the 31st of March. However, there should be a break for Carnaval, but while I am writing this article I have no further information on this matter. If you are interested, please call the box office at (21) 2537-8053. I would like to add that the play is very successful, and that it had excellent revues. The fact that it is classified as a comic-delirious tragedy does not seem to be an obstacle for the audiences to go and watch it!
(*) Ewa Procter is a writer and a theatre translator, and
Chair of the Instituto Cultural Chiquinha Gonzaga.
Photo by Celso Lemos