The Children

By Lucy Kirkwood

Theatre by the Lake, Keswick

THE Children is a hard-hitting, thought provoking play full of unexpected twists and turns.

It has a particular resonance for those of us living in West Cumbria.

Former nuclear scientists Hazel and Robin are retired - growing their own veg, feeding the cows, practising yoga.

But the world outside their rural hideway is a troubled place, following an incident at the power station where they used to work.

The play opens with a former colleague, Rose, turning up unexpectedly at the couple's home.

There's tension from the minute she walks in.

Hazel (Maggie O'Brien) is on edge, wittering on nervously. The salad and animal-loving mother of four is a very different person from calm, composed and worldly Rose (Rachel Laurence).

Their senses of humour are at odds too and it's clear these two have some pretty serious history.

The unsettling dynamic has the audience intrigued about the story behind the inane chat.

Robin's (Patrick Driver) arrival helps shed some light.

But the tension remains throughout this gripping drama directed by Stefan Escreet.

We are drip fed details of everyone's lives and glean a little more information about what is going on beyond the confines of the cottage.

The Children is a compelling, clever play.

The three characters, each with their strengths and weaknesses, are brilliantly portrayed by the actors.

I had no idea why Rose had rolled up and what was going to unravel until towards the end of the play when the couple were presented with a major moral dilemma.

But amongst all the darkness is much humour - and even some dancing, which provides much-needed light relief.

And when huge, potentially life changing decisions have to be made, I love the fact that Hazel reaches for her yoga mat.

The Children is an intriguing tale, full of surprises. It works perfectly in the confines of The Studio.

Tracy Walker