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Goodnight Children Everywhere

Set in the spring of 1945, the action takes place in the living room of a flat in Clapham, South London. The story concerns Peter, a 17 year old war evacuee, who is returning to London from Canada after 5 years. His parents were killed in the war, but his three sisters are alive and are eagerly awaiting his return.

The reunion is delightful and each share many stories to catch up on lost times. However, out of the blue Ann, Peter's sister, starts to masturbate him while he is taking a bath in a tin tub. What develops between them is an incestuous relationship, which I found just a little farfetched. I mean he had only been in the house a day! I have to admit that I found the start of the play irritating and unrealistic, particularly with the girls constantly giggling and hugging Peter repeatedly. I thought I was going to be in for a tedious 2 hours! However, this is one of those plays that improve as it goes along and eventually turns out to be absorbing.

The play makes you think and question the characters motives. Why did Ann initiate an incestuous relationship with her brother and fall in love with him, particularly so quickly? Was it because they were close as children and she used to bath him as a child and then the effect of being parted from him has effected her? Maybe she feels the need to be as close as possible to him so as not to lose him again. Why does Peter allow this to happen? This I could not find a satisfactory answer to.

This drama is not just dominated by this one relationship. It is obvious that the war and the parting of the family effected all the children. The story explores the emotional and fragility of family relationships against the backdrop of the 2nd World War's end.

Once the play had settled down the talents of the cast began to shrine through. Simon Cardifield, is competent playing 'Peter'. He has this 'little boy lost' look about him that makes him look endearing and immature. Cathryn Bradshaw produces some wonderful acting as 'Ann', who is unhappily married to an older man by whom she is pregnant. There is a convincing performance from Colin McCormack who plays 'Mike', Ann's husband, who helped the family when their parents died. Sara Markland is splendid as 'Betty', another of Peter' s sisters. Betty is the eldest sister who remained with her parents whilst the other children were evacuated. Betty is shy with men, nevertheless piercingly hard with her family. The 3rd sister Vi, played by Robin Weaver, is an erratic thespian who, though reluctantly, is willing to grant sexual favours in order to get a part in a play.

'Goodnight Children Everywhere' is a play that asks many puzzling questions, and does not easily give you the answers. Many theatregoers will come out of the auditorium with different ideas!

(Darren Dalglish)

Originally published on

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