Children (play)

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This article is about the A. R. Gurney play. For other uses, see Children (disambiguation).
Dennis Howard and Heather McRae in the US Premiere of Children, Virginia Museum Theater, 1976

Children is an early play by American playwright A. R. Gurney. It was first produced in London in 1974[1] and received its American premiere in 1976, directed by Keith Fowler and starring Carmen Mathews and Lynda Myles at the Virginia Museum Theater (now Leslie Cheek Theater) [2] in Richmond. It was inspired by John Cheever's short story "Goodbye My Brother".[3] A 2009 production starring Judith Light gave the play a new ending, and received positive reviews.[4][5]


Randy and Barbara, adult children of an affluent New England family, spend Fourth of July weekend at their family's beach house on an island off the coast of Massachusetts. Both are shocked when their widowed mother informs them that they're soon to be joined by their youngest brother, Pokey, long estranged from the family. When questioned as to the reasons for the reunion, their mother reveals that she plans to remarry—to their late father's best friend—and that, due to the conditions of their father's will, the house will pass to the three children. Pokey's arrival threatens the stability of this solid WASPish clan. Randy's childish competitiveness with his brother is reawakened. Pokey's liberated wife, Miriam, causes Randy's wife, Jane, to confront her true feelings about her life as a suburban wife and mother. Meanwhile, Barbara is having an affair with the family's former gardener, now married. Pokey announces his intentions to sell the house once it passes to the children, thus upsetting Barbara's plans for a quiet domestic life with her lover on the island. The children's upset forces their mother to confront where her life with her husband has brought her, and whether the true happiness really waits in her future.[6][7]


  1. ^ Don Shirley, "Adults Are Such 'Children' in A.R. Gurney's Early Play", Los Angeles Times, July 16, 1999.
  2. ^[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Alvin Klein, "Theater; Gurney's 'Children' in Hartford", The New York Times, February 1, 1987.
  4. ^ Fred Sokol, "Children: Williamstown Theatre Festival", Talkin' Broadway (accessed July 12, 2011).
  5. ^ Anita Gates, "Under the Iciness, Familial Fireworks and Poisonous Roots", The New York Times, June 5, 2009.
  6. ^ Klein, Alvin, "THEATER; GURNEY'S 'CHILDREN'...", N. Y. Times, 02/01/1987
  7. ^ "A R Gurney".