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Culture Stage West's 'The Children' brings compelling theatre to your home screen

Stage West’s ‘The Children’ brings compelling theatre to your home screen

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Robert Francis
Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

Stage West’s ‘The Children’ Stream it while you can

While Stage West’s live theatre production of Lucy Kirkwood’s “The Children” was forced to close -in the theatre – after only one week due to COVID-19 restrictions, it can still be seen, thanks to the magic of streaming media. Stage West was able to present the play to patrons through Vimeo ON-DEMAND. Patrons can watch a digital video stream of the play through Wednesday, April 29 at 11:59 p.m.

Virtual tickets are $40. That price will provide funds to pay the creative team members and Stage West staff, as well as support the theatre’s mission and campaign. Should a household be experiencing economic hardship, there will be a special promo code (HARDSHIP) for $20. There will be a limited, but generous, number of these codes available for use. Streaming is accessible at https://vimeo.com/ondemand/stagewest. You can view it on a variety of platforms, including iOS, Android, Apple TV, Roku, and Chromecast.

The show is well worth a look, not just to support the theatre and its innovative presentation, but because the play is surprisingly timely. Unsurprisingly, since it is Stage West, the show’s production is stellar, thoughtful and entertaining.

The play concerns two married, retired physicists – Hazel and Robin – living in a small cottage on the English coast. They are living in the aftermath of a recent nuclear disaster in the area. They are joined by an old friend and former colleague, Rose, who is there for a visit – and maybe something else. But then, maybe they’ve all got a little something to hide – or at the very least gloss over.

These three characters, now in their 60s, helped to build the nuclear power plant that has caused a shift in their lives. Now, as Hazel and Robin reside just outside the exclusion zone, they – and Rose – have some accounts to settle with each other, with themselves and others in their lives.

CJ Critt, Lisa Fairchild, Bob Hess
Photo by Evan Michael Wood

If it sounds dark, there’s some darkness there, but there is plenty of humor and even a little dancing along the way.

The cast features several area acting stalwarts: Lisa Fairchild, whose Hazel is polite with a touch of sarcasm; Bob Hess as Robin, who visits the “forbidden zone” a bit too often; and C.J. Critt, making her Stage West debut as Rose, who has plenty of secrets to reveal and to help reveal over the course of the play.

The play is efficiently directed by Kara-Lynn Vaeni, a faculty member at SMU. Set design is by Will Turbyne (a lot of sets wouldn’t survive the closeup of a camera, this one does), with lighting design by Leann Burns, costume design by Yvonne Johnson, sound design by Kellen Voss, movement choreography by Danielle Georgiou, and props and set décor by Lynn Lovett. My dog sends a special bark out to the sound design by Voss whose end of Act I effect got his attention.

Kirkwood’s play – which premiered in London in 2016 and then garnered two Tony nominations from its 2017 Broadway run – was inspired by the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in Japan. But the echoes of COVID-19 reverberate even louder as the characters deal with their new reality as well as their past, present and future. The children remain unseen but play a key role in the decisions the characters make.

Knowing that Stage West had to work quickly to tape the play for broadcast, I was prepared to forgive plenty of technical issues. I needn’t have worried. Except for a few minor rough edits, it all went smoothly.

The taping was done by Shiny Box Pictures, and Stage West worked with Alex Vorse and Travis Beverly of Shiny Bob on the production. Stage West also noted that the play’s director, Vaeni, served also as the director during filming, plotting out shots like a film director.

If there’s a “Show Must Go On” award out there, Stage West well deserves it.

https://stagewest.org/

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