reviewed by Adam Crowe

2019’s Indianapolis theatrical season has seen several shows that are popping up in cities all over the country. Local productions of A Doll’s House Pt. II, The Christians, and Newsies are just three examples of shows that are new and very popular everywhere. Another such example is playing for two more weekends at Indianapolis’ Phoenix Theatre. Lucy Kirkwood’s The Children is playing this season in most major American cities and the Phoenix production is an exquisite explanation of why.

Directed by Artistic Director Bill Simmons, The Children features Indianapolis’ own Charles Goad, Chicago’s Donna Steele, and former Hoosier Diane Kondrat. Over its 100 minutes, The Children uses a realistic, if somewhat heightened situation and explores mortality, duplicity, and what we all owe “the children”. Playwright Kirkwood is interested in how we live, both with ourselves and with others, and how our preconceptions about our own mortality can have devastating effects on others.

Hazel and Robin reside in a seaside British cottage and receive a surprise visit from long absent friend Rose. We soon discover that the idyllic cottage is located quite close to the site of a not-so-natural disaster, and these characters have ties not just to each other, but to the site itself. I won’t disclose why Rose is back for her visit, but the revelations come fast and hit hard once all three characters occupy the same room.

from left: Diane Kondrat, Donna Steele, and Charles Goad rehearse a scene for Phoenix Theatre’s “The Children”

While the themes are serious, there is a lot of humor in the play. More importantly, the themes are thoughtful and entirely accessible, despite the scientific pedigrees of all three characters. Kirkwood has created a story that is captivating and the cast’s performances are all excellent. All three actors are in top form, and they make it easy to understand why the play is being performed in so many theaters across the country. I always enjoy productions at the Phoenix, and this was certainly no exception. I cannot recommend this production highly enough. It is an enthralling evening of theater.

The Children runs through May 19th. Indianapolis’ Phoenix Theatre is now located at 705 N. Illinois Street. Free parking is available at the theatre’s own parking lot, just across Illinois street. Tickets may be purchased by visiting the website or by calling (317) 635-7529. 

  • – photos provided by Phoenix Theatre