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The Children

Dundee Rep
4 stars
Fire and water are at the emotional and elemental heart of this all too rare appearance of a play by Edward Bond, a man often regarded as the grand-daddy of the so called new brutalist school of playwriting, and is certainly a poet of considerable heart and soul. To see his turn of the century affair concerning one young person’s road to enlightenment via some future-eco disaster performed by some 30 members of Dundee Rep’s Youth Theatre Company as it is here in Sarah Brigham’s production makes for an even more compelling sense of event. Add too the presence of Robert Paterson and Irene MacDougall, two of the most seasoned and most versatile veterans of the Rep’s professional Ensemble company, and this three night run proved essential viewing.

At first glance, the row of hoodied up teens staring out at the audience like warriors are every parent’s nightmare. Especially the mother of Jo, the young girl whose violent urges let loose on a rag-doll provide release from a home life which encourages her to be even more destructive. Yet somehow, the gang she attempts to lead to sanctuary along with a grown-up casualty in search of revenge somehow learn compassion beyond their own pain.

Brigham has made dark stuff indeed out of Bond’s return to Eden on Leila Kalbassi’s set of bombed-out railway tracks, across which Ivan Stott’s soundtrack burbles forebodingly. To see such a serious work on such a grand scale is a thrilling and disturbing panorama, especially when the youths circle the doll to rain bricks on it. With Aislinn Mulholland making a strong and confident Jo, this is a bleakly mesmeric, ultimately life-affirming trip.

The Herald, January 21st 2008

ends

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