Oscar E Moore

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CHILDREN – Gurney based on Cheever at TACT

October 28th, 2011 by Oscar E Moore

Quaint.  That’s the word that comes to mind to describe this “Time Capsule” production of A. R. Gurney’s CHILDREN which is based on a short story By John Cheever that is now running at The Beckett Theatre on Theatre Row home of The Actors Company Theatre, first produced in London in 1974.

Taking place in 1970 on the terrace of a large ocean front house in Massachusetts on the Fourth of July weekend, CHILDREN deals with the trials and tribulations of your typical Gurney WASP family.  Bloody Marys included.

Bleached wood, white wicker furniture and red geraniums by the sea offer tranquilly and calm.  Life there is ordered.  Neat.  There are rules to be followed.  Issues to be avoided. 


And so when Mother (Darrie Lawrence) five years after the death of her husband by drowning decides that she is going to marry “Uncle Bill” an usher at her wedding years ago and give the house to her three children – Barbara (Margaret Nichols) who is divorced and having a clandestine affair with the man who used to cut their lawn and is now a local builder and Randy (Richard Thieriot) a spoiled, whiney and testy man interested in getting the tennis court fixed who is married to a questioning Jane (Lynn Wright) and Pokey who works for the Department of Justice, is married to a Jewish girl whom Jane admirers and is described as a kook and someone who doesn’t wear a bra and allows their children to use four letter words and call adults by their first name things are put in a very minor uproar.  As WASPS will do.

Pokey, his wife and all the children of Mother’s children are never seen and never heard from.  Pokey, near the end of the ninety intermission-less minutes, is seen through the screen door as Mother has her face to face with him.  Sort of.

The production looks great thanks to scenic designer Brett J. Banakis, Lighting designer Bradley King and costume designer Haley Lieberman. 

Director Scott Alan Evans does his best to keep us interested even to the point of having a butt naked Randy.  The use of the instrumental “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White” is a nice touch but the problems facing this particular family seem to be mostly superficial until they begin to be honest with one another and then we connect.  Watching Mr. Thieriot and Lynn Wright struggling with their feelings is very satisfying. 

In fact watching all the actors come to terms with the oncoming changes in their lives makes CHILDREN worth a visit.  Especially when Mother lets loose her hidden most feelings.

www.tactnyc.org  Photo:  Stephen Kunken

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