Closed 1h 50m
The Children
Midtown W
75

The Children NYC Reviews and Tickets

75%
(362 Reviews)
Positive
80%
Mixed
16%
Negative
4%
Members say
Great acting, Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Intelligent, Slow

About the Show

Two retired nuclear scientists in an isolated cottage by the sea as the world around them crumbles.  Manhattan Theatre Club brings this new drama from London to Broadway with its original cast.

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Member Reviews (362)

74
Absorbing, Slow, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if Moves very slow, but raises some thoughtful questions in an interesting way about our roles and purpose in life.

Don't see it if You don’t like serious dramas or prefer fast moving stories.

90
Exquisite, Masterful, Slow, Morbid, Profound

See it if Death beckons for nuclear disaster survivors. As the bell tolls, old friends explore the limits of how well they can understand each other.

Don't see it if You don’t like meticulously develeoped characters and a slow moving plot. You don’t want to think about how death affects the living. Read more

Critic Reviews (48)

December 12th, 2017

“Even though it is completely successful as an eco-thriller, bristling with chills and suspense, denuclearization is not its subject…Its true concerns…become so lofty and yet at the same time so essential that the play is as disturbing to replay in your imagination as it is to see in the first place...The naturalness of Mr. Macdonald’s stage movement in such a confined space is central to the containment of energy that makes the play thrilling.”
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December 12th, 2017

“Unsettling and provocative...Kirkwood keeps angles of the romantic triangle secondary to a larger concern: the mess that baby boomers have made of the world and what they can do to clean it up...Behind the subtleties of its direction and acting, 'The Children’s' central question is blunt: What does it mean to be responsible?"
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December 12th, 2017

“A play about responsibility and guilt, reparation and redemption. It’s also a British play, so these heavy matters are handled lightly, wryly, approached from the side until circumstances absolutely demand a head-on confrontation...Kirkwood plays a clever and ultimately heartbreaking game with the complex relationships among these three old friends...There’s the sense of three expert players staying in close harmony, at first reserved, eventually released.”
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December 12th, 2017

"‘The Children’ squanders its provocative premise with dull execution. There are powerful moments in the second half once the main situation has been established…But for all the moments that resonate there are others that feel forced...The three veteran British performers deliver impeccable work...But the actors' fine efforts are not enough to fully breathe life into this willfully slow-paced, sluggish work, which treats minor domestic issues and the future of the planet with equal gravity.“
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December 12th, 2017

“What at first seemed like an intimate domestic meditation on the post-apocalyptic emerges, much more intriguingly, as a nuanced, humane, yet scathing indictment of the Baby Boomers...Director James MacDonald tightens the atmosphere, tracing the shift in mood from an ordinary afternoon to a seismic evening with grace...The playwright has a gift for realism, with actors to match it, but tests the limits of its effectiveness as she gets exceedingly blunt with theme."
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December 14th, 2017

"Its sterling cast intact, Kirkwood’s harrowing play exposes us to the drab lives and dark pasts of three nuclear physicists...Director James Macdonald does a masterful job of deepening and darkening the sense of menace that haunts this strange play...So much depends on the actors to hold off our impatience. Luckily, these mesmerizing performers could keep us enthralled through any of the cataclysmic events alluded to in the play."
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December 14th, 2017

"A gently probing and eccentrically unsettling play...This play is best when it skillfully keeps its questions hovering in the air, letting none settle to earth...The direction by James Macdonald creates a taut but playful psychological drama that lets nothing become pedantic, following the text’s lead and dissolving most solemnity with glints of wit...At the same time, there was something unsatisfying here. Perhaps it was the sense that there really was meant to be, in the end, a takeaway."
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December 12th, 2017

“A slow-moving but ultimately thought-provoking and haunting drama about legacies...Patience is required for this 110-minute one-act, but there are payoffs...Buether’s sets and costumes, Mumford’s lighting and projections and Pappenheim’s sound design enrich the atmosphere. The three actors deliver lived-in, persuasive performances. Director Macdonald’s staging exerts an insistent tug and nudges out flecks of humor in the dark subject.”
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December 12th, 2017

“A grim post-apocalyptic drama...The cultural issues and character conflicts raised in Kirkwood’s sobering and absorbing new work hark back to the very notion of giving — not gifts, but oneself — for the sake of community and future generations...The visually stylized, well-acted production is directed by Macdonald...It begins slowly and mysteriously...Black humor occasionally pops up...A social drama that is disturbing and thought-provoking.”
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December 12th, 2017

“A very small play about some very big thing, profound, in fact, with its life and death matters...If Kirkwood was aiming to show how life boils down to routine, she did perhaps too good a job, because the minutiae of their lives slows the action...The cast embody the characters with stunning naturalism...MacDonald expertly lulls our expectations before lowering the boom at the end...It's the deceptive ordinariness of it all that makes ‘The Children’ so deeply unnerving.”
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December 12th, 2017

“A quietly upsetting drama...A play that oscillates between thought-provoking and boring...This play is not meant to address a single generation, but it is difficult to emerge from the show not thinking about the baby boomers...Macdonald places these unsettlingly real performances in a handsome production that sadly fails to grab hold of our full attention until about halfway through...Beautifully rendered, none of it adds up to the sustained tension that this play demands.”
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December 13th, 2017

“In British playwiright Kirkwood’s deceptively subtle drama ‘The Children’, three characters in their sixties consider their responsibility to the younger ones living now...Terrific three-member cast...With another author, the 100-minute play might have been shaved down to set up an adventure story of sensational heroism, but the great impact of Kirkwood's drama comes from its naturalism and simple presentation of a moral issue.”
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December 20th, 2017

“In her new play, Kirkwood has imagined an honestly nightmarish situation...However, the playwright compromises herself with some remarkably creaky, old-fashioned plotting. A play designed to disturb ends up producing an oddly lulling effect...’The Children’ is a rather depressing affair, not least because its intentions are so good; however, it leaves one with a sense of the difficulty of dramatizing the issues with which Kirkwood is concerned.”
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December 12th, 2017

“Kirkwood's all too believable play about the aftermath of a nuclear accident, is much more than a cautionary dystopian tale...The intact transfer is a fortuitous one, resulting in a polished ensemble piece that captures a sense of the characters' history...Kirkwood does a wonderful job of revealing the details of the accident by weaving bits of information into conversations that are otherwise laced with domestic chatter...and the sort of gallows humor that is intended to keep despair at bay."
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December 12th, 2017

“A simmering, ultimately searing drama by Kirkwood...Superb three-member cast...A quiet but exquisitely well-observed slice of life, set in an all-too-easily foreseeable future, when life itself has become, well, more thinly sliced...MacDonald calibrates the play’s subdued but unmistakable nuggets of conflict expertly...’The Children’ does dawdle a bit here and there...But the preciseness of the play’s naturalism is integral to its quiet impact, as well as its larger meanings.”
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December 17th, 2017

“Despite a brilliant display of achingly detailed acting - reason enough for connoisseurs of acting to rush to this production directed by James Macdonald - its uneasy blend of a frightening nuclear apocalypse and an ugly romantic triangle might be an obstacle for some. ‘The Children’ is a quiet, whispered scream of a drama that takes viewers by surprise even as the characters bleed and brood.”
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December 12th, 2017

“Kirkwood's tremendous new play is the kind of work we need to be making, and supporting, right now...Macdonald is a master at executing real, darkly comic characters in stark scenarios. His deft hand brings to the stage a nuanced, streamlined performance with just a hint at some tricks. But it’s Kirkwood’s script that deserves the most attention...Filled with a millennial insight into the baby boomers in a way that never feels patronizing, but boldly poetic and disarmingly comic."
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January 4th, 2018

"Astonishing new play...I dare not reveal the outcome and thereby spoil your discoveries that this fine, brave play offers. The trio of virtuoso English actors shines...Under James MacDonald’s expert direction, this ordinary cottage kitchen is the scene of revelation after shocking revelation, escalating to a stunning denouement. Rarely do we encounter a playwright of conscience like Lucy Kirkwood, who courageously tackles the big questions that our planet faces."
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December 15th, 2017

“The way Kirdwood's tackled climate change is cause to rejoice. She's not only taken on that more problematic than ever issue but managed to weave it into a potent mix of polemic and fact inspired fiction...Remarkably fresh, absorbing, disturbing, and entertaining...The actors and the script's detours into humor and bonding...keep us engaged in this dark story's at times overly slow, and perhaps ten minutes too long, creep towards its inevitably disturbing ending.”
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December 17th, 2017

“The interpersonal relationships are dolled out like poker chips until the entire piece assembles itself. These performances are subtle and focused...MacDonald’s direction pays great attention to the details of familiar behavior...It is to Kirkwood’s credit that the threat and the impossibility of the situation creeps up on us like radiation poisoning itself. As the play concludes, however, the story collapses in on itself...Too bad. A missed opportunity.”
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December 19th, 2017

“A disturbing tale about nuclear power that mirrors real events, is troubling from the onset…The dialogue between the two women has an edge to it, and the talented actresses project an air of tension…Kirkwood's drama is engrossing and absorbing…‘The Children’ is a somber cautionary tale, sadly one that is not far-fetched. Serious thought-provoking ideas for the ride home.”
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December 21st, 2017

"It’s a quietly disturbing beginning as directed by James MacDonald, and we are instantly engaged and desperate for an explanation for this troubled air. And it will come, but we will have to just sit back and wait it out...What is beautifully done in this intriguing and powerful play, is the teasing out of information about the world they live in and the circumstances they find themselves...It’s a slow cooking machine here, but wildly satisfying in the end."
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January 26th, 2018

"The success of 'The Children' is primarily the result of Kirkwood's effective and judicious use of tropes, particularly the extended metaphor of the nuclear 'disaster' that has displaced Hazel and her husband Robin from their dairy farm...Under Macdonald's purposive and gentle direction, 'The Children' raises significant enduring questions left for the audience to grapple with."
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December 15th, 2017

“Seems like a small, slow domestic drama...but turns into an unsettling meditation on some very large themes...Kirkwood roots her larger themes in concrete details, a series of startling surprises, and some resonant metaphors, woven into nearly two hours otherwise filled with seemingly idle small talk...Might try the patience of the average attention-deficit New Yorkers, but ‘The Children’ hits home by the end...The three veteran British actors bring credible characters to life.”
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December 16th, 2017

“James Macdonald's sometimes gripping, sometimes dull production…combining a modicum of tension, mystery, and a refreshing spray of laughter…For all its dramatic circumstances, 'The Children' is not nearly as intense as its outline suggests. Talky, expository passages, where little transpires, combine with a thinning plotline to introduce occasional longueurs during its intermissionless hour and 50 minutes. Thanks to the lovingly honed performances, though, you remain invested for most of it.”
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December 12th, 2017

"An extraordinary play now making its U.S premiere under the subtle and super-steady hand of director James Macdonald...With layers that unfold like an onion and a construction as solid as an Erector set, Kirkwood’s 105-minute piece may initially seem like a pungent if well-made domestic drama, a la Albee or Pinter, but the author proves to have much more than marriage on her mind...'The Children' reveals itself as a deeply philosophical work."
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December 17th, 2017

"These three are a true ensemble and it is a marvel that even in the silences, much is said. Macdonald's direction allows the surprises and the twists and turns to unfold naturally. He brings out the best in his trio of superb actors. Buethers’s set and costume design, together with Mumfords lighting and projection design and Pappenheim’s sound design, keep us at the edge of the world. All these elements keep us just off kilter enough to feel that this is now, relevant, and important."
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December 12th, 2017

“A pace that was much too glacial for my taste. I found the changes of tone from humor to drama to a dance number and back irritating. The three actors are superb but the relationship of their characters seemed trivial next to the larger theme of their obligation to future generations. If seeing fine British actors in their prime is enough for you, you will enjoy yourself. If you need a spare, tightly-knit, well-integrated piece, you won’t.”
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December 12th, 2017

“A sturdy drama; interesting, arresting, and enigmatic enough to hold interest...All do a fine job...A worthwhile evening in the theatre. But is worthwhile, one wonders, enough?...Doomsday plays have been around for quite some time; ‘The Children’, for all its mystery and topicality, doesn’t begin to rank with the others...The actors are accomplished, and do perfectly well with their material...’The Children’, alas, is simply good enough.”
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December 12th, 2017

“A very scary, cautionary drama…Kirkwood’s play, to its credit often resembles a vintage episode of ‘The Twilight Zone.’ An ominous tension pervades the production…The language of Kirkwood’s characters bristles with intelligence…Macdonald directs an extraordinary trio of actors. With fine precision, he buffets Findlay’s constantly fraught portrayal of a woman clinging to life through her illusions with the grounded resignation at the heart of Annis and Cook’s performances."
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December 15th, 2017

“Kirkwood’s ambitious play has a broad scope...The strength of the imaginative play lies in the interactions of the characters...We are challenged to decide what to make of the characters, their relationship, events of the past and forebodings for the future. Macdonald accents the play’s intensity and step-by-step revelations. Massive projections at the end drive home the central concept. Mostly, it is the expertise of the three cast members that keeps us glued.”
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December 20th, 2017

"Lucy Kirkland has penned theater for our time...Kirkwood’s play rivets attention and raises questions sure to elicit lively discussion. Except for a thoroughly unnecessary passage about the vicissitudes of the cottage toilet, the piece is beautifully crafted...Acting is terrific...Macdonald has kept this multilayered play accessible and human, relegating philosophical issues to after the curtain falls."
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December 26th, 2017

“Connects to its audience on a level deeper than stagecraft...Kirkwood structures her compassionate, heart-wrenching treatise on social responsibility with such craft, you become wrapped up in the interrelations of this trio without even realizing they are symbols of modern society, yet struggling to redeem itself...Macdonald’s direction keeps the action on a credible level with a welcome lack of showy theatricalism. This subtlety is echoed in the acting.”
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December 12th, 2017

“A relevant and trenchant play that uses the dystopian reality of nuclear meltdown as an impetus for exploring big questions on an intimate scale...Kirkwood insightfully devises rich and fascinating characters whose diverging worldviews reflect the paradoxes that come with personal responsibility, maturity, and eventual death...The imagery of the play is stark and memorable...An acclaimed transfer from London, the performances are pitch-perfect.”
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December 14th, 2017

"A very good play with very good performances and a very good production design and very good direction, all working together to give you that delicious feeling of being in very good hands...The three actors couldn’t be in more sync if they were a string quartet that had spent a lifetime perfecting their focus and interplay...How easy all involved make a fresh, compelling drama like this seem."
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December 12th, 2017

"Full of neat, jolting visual surprises…The audience delights in Kirkwood’s delight for language…You may well be listening to a delightful radio play…The true test of sitting and watching a play with no intermission for close to two hours is that you want to follow Hazel, Rose, and Robin to where they are going, to listen to them more. But Kirkwood has imagined the right end for them, right before a far more profound end presents itself.”
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December 12th, 2017

"The three sexagenarians go on trying to keep up appearances in typically English middle-class style as the tension builds under James Macdonald’s taut direction... Their clash here symbolizes a larger debate about the privilege of the postwar generation...Kirkwood’s play provocatively asks whether such fortunate golden-agers might not consider sacrificing themselves for the sake of the young. That modest proposal ought to make a few waves on Broadway."
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December 18th, 2017

“An all-too-true cautionary tale…Kirkwood’s thoughtful drama…Macdonald directs with a slow and steady build, subtly unfolding the friends' past relationship...Not surprisingly, with such laudable performers, the characters are well-nuanced and distinctively portrayed…Even with its occasional sluggish moments and some difficulty understanding the coastal English dialect, ‘The Children’ has a fearful universality that lingers in the mind.”
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January 18th, 2018

“A breath of fresh air in this winter season...This fiercely taut drama...Brilliantly written by Olivier Award winner Kirkwood, who has created three complex characters who are genuine and unpredictable...Despite its title, ‘The Children’ is the most adult show in NYC right now, a marvelously resonant, intelligent, and engaging play that continually defies expectations as the plot twists and turns while something threatening hangs just past the horizon.”
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December 12th, 2017

"Ms. Kirkwood's dialogue is sharp, funny, and somewhat spare, preferring suggestion over exposition...There is an overwhelming feeling of enervation, the same feeling one gets from reading 'The Waste Land.'"
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December 12th, 2017

“The play gets going slowly...All three actors are in top form, portraying well-developed, multidimensional characters under Macdonald’s meticulous direction...Ultimately, this is a difficult piece of theater, and the ambiguous though beautiful ending presents so many implications it makes the head spin. Whatever the conclusion, anyone who sees the play will find it hard to stop thinking about the universal and troubling issues it raises.”
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December 15th, 2017

“Tries to compress several genres into a small-scale kitchen-sink drama, the length of its single act slightly distended to accommodate enough material that it runs a full hundred minutes...Kirkwood's play, written in a flat naturalistic style, doesn’t bring its materials to life, and Macdonald’s production, well played but slackly paced, follows the script glumly, though the visionary projections that close the event have an attractive fascination that makes for a strong finish.”
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December 12th, 2017

“What is truly marvelous is the gap between the comfortable dialogue between the twosome, and then the threesome, and the emotions snaking around and under them...The play goes in unexpected places, both charming and disturbing the audience, held breathless by what we don’t know...You will find yourself pondering the questions 'The Children' asks for a long time to come....Macdonald deftly maneuvers his brilliant cast around the tilted world they inhabit."
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December 15th, 2017

“Among the other dystopias, political rants, and apocalyptic pieces this season, 'The Children' seems unremarkable...The most interesting part of the play is the ethical debate...This debate is the saving grace of the play, since it provides a moral and ethical debate that is as fascinating as it is relevant...Without the morality discussion 'The Children' is an odd mix of apocalypse and stage naturalism, a combination that certainly no one asked for."
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December 14th, 2017

"Unfolds with lots of talky exposition, but fortunately the three cast members give performances full of energy and the right amount of shading to make the characters’ tragic fate all too real...At nearly two hours long without an intermission, the show, with many unnecessary scenes, can be a slog to sit through...Ms. Annis, Mr. Cook, and Ms. Findlay are exquisite even when the material they have been given is not."
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January 5th, 2018

"While the disaster closely resembles the meltdown of the nuclear power plant in Fukushima, it feels remote. It’s the words that hang in the air here–not the sense of urgency of a nuclear power plant exploding down the road...To Kirkwood’s credit, the ending leaves us with nothing much more than our own uncertainty...Masterfully directed by James Macdonald."
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December 21st, 2017

"Exposition is skillfully interwoven with present-day banter...The characters, both in their scripting and the nuanced performances of the cast, are not at all the scientists-as-socially-inept- brainiacs stereotypes. Refreshingly real, these people are more function like the rest of us...Director McDonald understands this balance of the quotidian with the apocalyptic, and keeps the action grounded in the rituals of daily life."
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December 16th, 2017

“While the setup takes a while, the dénouement is worth waiting for, thanks greatly to the superb acting of the trio, Buether’s brilliant set, and truly illuminating lighting by Mumford...What did we just see, I asked upon exiting the theater. I wasn’t completely certain but one thing is clear: ‘The Children’ made a disturbing enough statement about the price we may pay in the future because of how we treat the present to merit further consideration.”
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