by Shirley Lorraine
Decisions Come With A Price
Santa Paula Theatre Center’s 2023 season promises myriad opportunities to reflect on life-changing occurrences, starting with The Children by Lucy Kirkwood, now on the main stage. A multiple award nominee, the play offers a deep and thought-provoking look at possibilities after a disaster with far-reaching effects. For a serious subject, there are quite a few truly humorous moments interlaced, which offer a welcome relief from what could easily be a heart-stopping situation not outside the realm of possibility.
Imagine a disastrous event occurring at a nearby nuclear plant that causes wide-spread consequences. Now imagine you are a retired nuclear scientist grappling with a full understanding of the situation and yet the all-too-human desire to protect oneself and one’s family in an insular way. Your altered life is now shattered by a prior co-worker’s request to step away from comfort for the greater good. What do you do? How do you weigh your needs with the needs of many others?
The Children, directed by Santa Paula Theatre Center Artistic Director Jessi May Stevenson, is a masterful piece of theater brought to life by three extraordinary actors. Leslie Upson appears as Hazel, a retiree acclimating slowly to a new way of life. John Webber is her husband Robin (the two are married in “real life”), also a retired scientist, who goes to great lengths to adjust and protect Hazel from some hurtful realities. Their world is upended by Tracy Hudak as Rose, a fellow scientist, former co-worker (and more), who appears on their doorstep after a 30-year absence with what is ultimately discovered to be a life-changing request.
The three are a force to behold, drawing the audience in from the first moments. We laugh with them, feel their inner struggles, hurt with them over the turns their lives have taken, and ache with them for the weight of their future.
The staging is tightly choreographed to allow unencumbered movement in a small space. This cast is near perfection in their portrayals. Timing is paced well. Subtleties in the background are spot-on, and each of the three actors gives a strong, compelling performance.
I left the theater with a profound sense of obligation to think deeply about my priorities and pondering what would I do if I were able to make a difference on this huge a scale.
SPTC’s season will continue with a series of plays that will delve into a plethora of human situations which pose emotional challenges for consideration. If you are not already a season subscriber, I highly recommend this season as a time to become one.
In addition to the main stage productions, there are concerts, backstage readings and opportunities to witness works in progress. The Santa Paula Theatre Center offers a wide range of stagings to suit many varied interests. Check the website often for current offerings and updates.
www.santapaulatheatercenter.org or (805) 525-4645.