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The Children
The Children

The Children
Steppenwolf Theatre
Thru - Jun 9, 2019

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Show Information

Steppenwolf Theatre

  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune- Somewhat Recommended

"...I think "The Children" is an excellent play, here given a fair-to-middling production. Like several of the works at Steppenwolf of late, the casting seems strange, given all of the emotional firepower in this theater's ensemble, especially in this age range. Certainly, all three of these performances are the work of actors with great craft. But the show also has a chilliness and a remove that doesn't always serve the text."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times- Highly Recommended

"..."The Children," British playwright Lucy Kirkwood's deceptively simple drama, takes place in the aftermath of an incredible disaster - one in which natural and manmade circumstances collided in horrifying fashion. "A one-in-10-million-years fault sequence," one of Kirkwood's scientist characters calls it. But the bigger disaster is the one that's playing out in slow motion across decades and centuries, while everyone wrings their hands and laments that it's probably too hard to solve."
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Kris Vire

Daily Herald- Highly Recommended

"...Director Jonathan Berry helms a strong production that achieves an ideal balance between laugh-out-loud humor and contemplative regret. Berry's expert design team does a fine job of mixing light and dark as well, particularly with Chelsea M. Warren's cozy cottage perched perilously close to an eroding coastline."
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Scott C. Morgan

Chicago Reader- Highly Recommended

"...In director Jonathan Berry's taut, incisive staging, the inevitability of a worst-case endgame pervades the atmosphere. But it's the offstage children—both Hazel and Robin's and those of the world entire—who have the most to fear. Kirkwood's needle-sharp dialogue asks what is owed these children and, implicitly, what will become of them if (when) the oceans turn toxic. She offers no solutions, just a picture of a devastated world that's nightmarishly recognizable, culminating in a final, all-engulfing image that will take your breath away."
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Catey Sullivan

Windy City Times- Highly Recommended

"...Berry's crisp but unhurried pacing elicits engaging, warm and truthful performances from master actors Brooks, Jones and Peyankov, Scenic designer Chelsea M. Warren's refurbished-but-still-rustic cottage is surprisingly large but provides a believably lived-in sense of place."
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Jonathan Abarbanel

Time Out Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...The Children is a perfect fit for both Berry, an actor’s director, and Steppenwolf, an actor’s theater. Kirkwood’s very funny drama is built almost entirely out of odd, endearing grace notes that are played sublimely by the three stellar actors, especially Brooks. And just when it threatens to become a tidal wave of intergenerational agitprop—a Millennial author imploring Baby Boomers to finally do their part—it recedes into the eddying currents of these three strange people and the lives they’ve chosen to lead."
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Alex Huntsberger

Splash Magazine- Recommended

"...The densely written script, literally jam-packed with dialogue, introduces us into the currently humdrum and previously enmeshed existence of 3 rocket scientists who gather in a drab cottage at the edge of a recent nuclear disaster zone. Hazel and Robin, long-married with 4 grown children, are eking out a life sans benefit of electricity, lacking in sufficient food and apparently devoid of sexual congress in an area of the world rocked by extreme weather and the results of a gargantuan mistake they all 3 helped create. At an undefined point in the past, they helped design a defective power plant with its generator in a basement all too likely to become flooded."
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Debra Davy

Let's Play at ChicagoNow- Recommended

"...Chicago director and teacher Johnathan Berry, last collaborated with the Goodman was directing The World of Extreme Happiness does a magnificent job with this dark humor tragedy. He has an amazing eye for directing an exceptional play and bringing life to them to where the audience feels the gravity of its meaning."
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Rick and Brenda McCain

NewCity Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...With "The Children," Kirkwood does what her male peers seem so unfailingly incapable of: centering a story on women even in the presence of a loud, opinionated and self-anointed mediocre man. For his part, Robin is more nuanced than the antiheroes who've pouted about the boards at Steppenwolf in recent years, and Payenkov's performance is sweet and subtle. But this play is designed for Jones and Ulrich Brooks: the former demonstrating an emotional range beyond her established comedic chops; the latter being a Chicago treasure that deserved every deafening decibel of our applause on opening night."
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Kevin Greene

WTTW- Highly Recommended

"...There are a number of spoiler alerts not to be divulged here. But the one thing that should not be kept secret is the brilliant interplay of the cast, whether it’s Brooks’ edgy mix of confidence and resentment (and physical ease), Jones’ flawless timing (listen to her recall a moment of erotic bliss), or Peyankov’s droll wit (as when he recounts his unrequited lust for a farm girl). The play is not without its flaws, but the performances are peerless. And there is a dance sequence that, all by itself, is easily worth the price of admission."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Theatre Review- Highly Recommended

"...Seasoned with enough black humor to lighten an omnipresent sense of doom and disaster, Lucy Kirkwood’s shattering drama is as timely and important as today’s headlines. It will force theatergoers to confront our current Administration’s apathy or ignorance or their goal to destroy this planet for the almighty dollar. Kirkwood’s drama is set in the not-too-distant future, but it feels like tomorrow. Her characters, as brilliantly portrayed by this stellar cast, are as real as your next-door neighbors, making this drama even more horrifying and thought-provoking. Do not miss this production…before the big wave hits."
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Colin Douglas

Chicagoland Theater Reviews- Recommended

"...I entered the theater anticipating that I would be watching a cautionary tale about how the world shamefully has reached such a perilous place in history. We get graphic doses of that theme almost daily in the media. But it’s on the human level that the play works best for me, conflicts that personally impact on the lives of decent but flawed people."
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Dan Zeff

The Fourth Walsh- Somewhat Recommended

"...Although Kirkwood’s scenario feels inevitable and scary, the play never gets to that level. Despite three terrific actors in Jones, Brooks, and Peyankov, their chemistry doesn’t pull us into the crisis. From the cause of a bloody nose to the source of deadly destruction, reveals are more cool than chilling. Director Jonathan Berry paces it with a nonchalance that loses the emotional punch. When Brooks utters, ‘I don’t know how to want less’, the profundity gets swallowed. Kirkwood gives us plenty to chew on but Berry doesn’t allow us to really savor this reality."
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Katy Walsh

Third Coast Review- Recommended

"...Berry’s direction makes these personal stories come to life. Chelsea M. Warren’s scenic design recreates a cozy, cluttered English cottage, built at the edge of a receding shoreline, without running water or reliable electricity. Candles, gas lamps and a wood stove are part of the furnishings. Lighting design is by Lee Fiskness and sound by Andre Pluess. Mara Blumenfeld designed the costumes."
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Nancy Bishop

The Hawk Chicago- Recommended

"...Breathing life into a play about humanity’s impending doom may sound contradictory, but it’s at the heart of Kirkwood’s story. How does life continue as the world crumbles? How does destruction affect our relationships and our perceptions of one another? Steppenwolf’s production of The Children presents these ideas and themes but doesn’t quite capture their weight."
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Emily Schmidt

Rescripted- Recommended

"...The Children instead conveys a looming fear that all humans have when they get older: death and remembrance. Another prominent and haunting question it asks is what happens when there is no one to clean up the mess we’ve made? The play brings up important questions about “who is responsible or rather willing to be accountable for the mess we’ve made?”. Will this almost impossible task of cleaning up our world be left to the children or the adults who made it in the first place? While I wish this was thoroughly answered in the play, the show allows its audience to leave with the question and answer it for themselves."
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Lonnae Hickman