The Children, Steppenwolf Theatre, Opens April 2019

Playwright Lucy Kirkwood, Director Jonathan Berry, Scenic Design Chelsea M. Warren, Costume Design Mara Blumenfeld, Lighting Design Lee Fisknus, Sound Design Andre Pluess, Production Photographer Michael Brosilow

Janet Ulrich Brooks (Hazel) and ensemble members Yasen Peyankov (Robin) and Ora Jones (Rose) in Steppenwolf’s Chicago premiere production of The Children by Lucy Kirkwood

critical response below

Daily Herald, Scott C. Morgan: “Director Jonathan Berry helms a strong production that achieves an ideal balance between laugh-out-loud humor and contemplative regret. Berry's expert design team does a fine job of mixing light and dark as well, particularly with Chelsea M. Warren's cozy cottage perched perilously close to an eroding coastline.  Lighting designer Lee Fiskness conveys the harsh realities of the script in terms of power cuts and how Hazel and Robin have to make do living with less access to electricity. Fiskness and sound designer Andre Pluess also team well to illustrate the play's noisy and eerie open-to-interpretation ending.”

Time Out Chicago, Alex Huntsberger: “Berry’s production emphasizes Kirkwood’s estuarial mixture of character and theme with a set, by designer Chelsea M. Warren, that situates Robin and Hazel’s home on the edge of a cliff: a cozy homestead at the mercy of more elemental forces. Like the ghostly church bells of the vanished seaside village that Rose insists she has heard clear as day, The Children is impossible to ignore and equally hard to forget.”

WTTW, Hedy Weiss: The play, now receiving its Chicago premiere by Steppenwolf Theatre, where director Jonathan Berry has gathered three sublime Chicago actors (Janet Ulrich Brooks, Ora Jones and Yasen Peyankov), is set in a rustic cottage – a formidable design by Chelsea M. Warren – perched on a massive rocky foundation on the east coast of England where the sound of waves and chirping sea birds can be heard.”

 NWHerald, Regina Belt-Daniels: “Directed by Steppenwolf’s Artistic Producer Jonathan Berry, “The Children” teases us with a sense of menace and a nuclear power plant that is its own unspoken character. Thankfully, there is somewhat of a payoff at the end and perhaps a redemption; it’s all captured by Chelsea Warren’s spot on set design (I particularly appreciated the rock like moat that separates the audience from the stage, reinforcing that it’s a crumbling coast line as well as the fact we’re observers).”

Chicago Theatre Review, Colin Douglas: “Chelsea M. Warren has designed a beautifully detailed set that looks slightly shabby, but is, like this cast, very realistic. It looks like a quaint cottage by the sea where anyone would enjoy living. But on closer examination, things are just slightly askew. When Hazel places an apple on the table, it starts to roll off. Later in the play, the water levels rise so much that the toilet overflows and floods the living room. Paired with Andre Pluess’ and Lee Fiskness’ ominous sound and lighting design, this production perfectly hits all the right notes.”

 Rescripted, Lonnae Hickman: “The show is performed with a breathtaking set design (Chelsea M. Warren) that consists of a full scale house on the shore of an English cottage complete with sounds of seagulls and waves crashing on the shore (sound by Andre Pluess). This is where the entire show is set, and it juts out, making the audience feel small in comparison. This prominent house is where we meet three retired nuclear scientists who both share and keep secrets.”