“I don’t know many plays that are about climate change or environmentalism or humans’ effect on the environment,” says Brandon Weinbrenner, director of The Children, which opens this week at the Rec Room. That was one of the things that attracted him to the story.
Weinbrenner, who directed last season’s The Royale at Rec Room, liked that the play focused on baby-boomer characters who were contemplating what world they were leaving behind for their children and grandchildren. While the characters’ demographics might be older than those usually seen on the Rec Room’s stage, Weinbrenner knows the play’s central topic is one that is of particular interest to the millennials and Gen X-ers who are part of the theater’s core audience. Lucy Kirkwood’s Tony-nominated play is set on the isolated British coast. In a cottage there, two retired nuclear scientists devise a plan to live forever—a plan that’s upended when a friend shows up with a frightening request.
For Kirkwood, the play was an examination of science as power as much as it was a way to look at the philosophical question of why humans are here. Weinbrenner boils it down just a bit differently.
“We have to care now if we care at all about the future,” he says. “And even though the play is a commentary on how we treat the world, my job isn’t to direct how that impacts the audience. That’s for you to decide.”
He feels the play will be exciting for audiences on multiple levels. Not only is the debate at the play’s core contemporary and very much a part of current events, the show has some of Houston’s most well-regarded actors. John Felch, Susan Koozin, and Sally Burtenshaw make up the cast, and each have graced stages across the country and locally including the Alley, 4th Wall Theatre Company, and TUTS.
“This has been such a great experience,” Weinbrenner says of working with the cast and artistic team at the Rec Room. “It’s an exciting theatrical outlet here in Houston. There’s a young, vivacious feeling here; they really uphold that image of storefront theater. And the plays they produce are about and by people with something to say.”
Weinbrenner’s betting that many in Houston will be eager to hear what this play says.
From Nov. 9 to Dec. 7. General admission tickets are $40. More information at recroomarts.org.