A recent play from acclaimed British writer Lucy Kirkwood throws up a provocative and poignant vision of the baby boomer generation's toxic legacy.
The political and the personal are seamlessly melded as a trio of retired nuclear scientists face the aftermath of a catastrophic meltdown of a nuclear power-plant which has devastated a remote seaside community.
The young playwright brutally exposes the frailties of this elderly group of high achievers who are forced to recognise that their lives, which were built on youthful enthusiasm and good intentions, have dissipated into an incoherent tangle of self-indulgence and careless hedonism.
A taut dramatic structure provides abundant opportunities for the superb cast who bring engaging naturalness to the conversational battles which rapidly escalate into a maelstrom of venomous belligerence, fuelled by sexual jealousies and copious consumption of home-made parsnip wine.
Carmel McGlone brilliantly captures the disintegration of a devoted wife and mother whose impressive practical skills are undermined by the emotional turmoil which has her constantly teetering on the brink of a nervous breakdown.
Elizabeth Hawthorne presents a revealing contrast in her nuanced portrayal of a suave, sophisticated career woman who has chosen to remain childless and seeks redemption through her selfless commitment to cleaning up the mess her generation has left behind.
David Aston rounds off the trio with an engaging performance as a charmingly playful and gropingly flirtatious seducer who has taken full advantage of the opportunities provided by the sexual revolution.
Paul Gittins' assured direction achieves a fine balance between humour and emotional intensity while Frances Roberts' strikingly realistic set almost has the brine of the North Sea wafting in the theatre. Plumb Productions continues to add spice to Auckland's theatre scene with well-chosen contemporary plays and an admirable commitment to high quality production values.
What: The Children
Where & When: Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre until Sunday, August 18
Reviewed by: Paul Simei-Barton