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 The Theatreguide.London Review

Children's Children
Almeida Theatre   Summer 2012

A stage full of unpleasant people have some unpleasant things happen to them, some are destroyed and others triumph, and there seems no pattern or reason for who does which. 

It is not at all clear what the message of Matthew Dunster's new play is and, apart from occasional moments of sardonic humour, the journey is a depressing one. 

A successful TV presenter is hit up by his oldest friend, a failed actor, for a very big loan. The presenter is subsequently destroyed by a scandal while the actor fritters away the money and dies, and his wife and daughter deny any knowledge of the loan. 

Meanwhile the presenter's wife, after divorcing him, goes off on a dead-end romance and idealistic quest, the actor's wife becomes a success, her totally spoiled and self-centred daughter has a golden life and daughter's boyfriend, a documentary film maker who never makes a film, sinks into nonentity. 

And somewhere along the way the play stops dead for an extended and totally irrelevant lecture (by the film maker) on the evils of oil companies in Africa and Russia. 

The world is made up entirely of bastards, bitches and losers, and some of them win and some of them lose that seems to be Dunster's vision, and he has every right to share it with us. And, to his credit, he generally (except for that oil drilling digression) keeps the story moving and holding our interest. 

But it would have been nice if he had also given us any reason to care about any of these people. We're not likely to mourn anybody's unhappy ending, and if we feel any emotion at all it is mild resentment of those who come out ahead. 

It takes a certain kind of good acting to make an audience dislike your character, and on that basis director Jeremy Herrin and the entire cast deserve praise, particularly Darrell D'Silva as the disgraced presenter, Trevor Fox as his duplicitous friend, and Sally Rogers as the it's-all-about-me daughter.

Gerald Berkowitz

Review - Children's Children - Almeida 2012  
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