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Children of Fate, CLF Art Café – Review

Juan Radrigan

Translated and directed by Robert Shaw
★★★★
Pros: The beautifully constructed, sweet characters you get to know throughout the performance.
Cons: Not a play I’d recommend for a light-hearted evening at the theatre.
Our Verdict: Culturally relevant and heartbreaking, with topics that open eyes and chill spines.
Courtesy of Inside Intelligence
Children of Fate (Hechos Consumados), written by Chilean playwright Juan Radrigan is currently running at the CLF Art Café in Peckham. Something of a hidden venue right outside Peckham Rye station, it is always filled with artistic treasures and, more importantly, surprising theatre.
I didn’t know much about the author when I first heard of Children of Fate, and I feel it’s important to introduce him to be able to present a just picture of what the experience holds for you; Juan Radrigan grew up immersed in the poverty and desolation that swept Chile during Pinochet’s regime. The program (which I highly recommend you grab a copy of) explains how he grew up with the many ‘hundreds of faces and bodies destroyed by poverty’. I feel very cautious about writing a review of a piece that deals with topics that have arisen from such a dark time of human history, but here it is.
Children of Fate provides an account of a few hours in the life of the lonesome Marta, and her chance encounter with Emilio. The play opens with Marta lying on a grimy, ragged mattress on the floor. The wooden ground of the stage is laid bare, with cardboard boxes scattered around randomly. There are plastic sheets hanging from the back, and a big container glows with the orange lighting of a fire. Imagine an abandoned warehouse that has been made somewhat habitable. Everything about her and the scene drips desperation. Marta wakes up to find Emilio, who looks exactly like his surroundings; abandoned and forgotten. As the hours go by, Marta and Emilio start to get to know each other and the circumstances that brought them to this particular situation. Marta reveals a small flicker of hope burning inside her regardless of the horrible events that have led to her waking up in such conditions. In contrast, Emilio is filled with defeat and flashing doses of dark humor. It is this contrast between the two that spurs the scenes forward with two additional characters adding depth: Aurelio, a (possibly) schizophrenic vagabond bearing ill tidings for the pair, and Miguel, the final piece for the fierce ending.
Sian Reese-Williams and Dan MacLane as the two desolate protagonists are simply superb. Their portrayal is sweet, tenacious and heartbreaking. Offue Okegbe as Miguel and Julia Tarnoki as Aurelio keep up the standard and do not disappoint. Tarnoki’s performance, although a fleeting one, made the temperature in the theatre drop; it really left the audience chilled to the bone when hearing the dark omens she brought to the scene.
The characters are painfully alive in front of you; thanks to the great production you get a sense of how they were created as result of the desperation that Radrigan saw in the Chilean people. These events can be found too often in human history. The play builds a similarity to the consequences of the Thatcher government in the UK, but talking to the friend that accompanied me to the theatre, we left feeling that more than anything this play is about the hard reality of the present and the dire consequences for the future if we do not take action. It is a culturally relevant and eye-opening production, but more importantly, a human one.
Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!

Children of Fate runs at CLF Art Café until 24 November 2013.
Box Office: 020 7732 5275 or book online at www.clfartcafe.org

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