Early Days contains two off-beat, unsentimental and text-based plays that are ideal for physical theatre; there are massive opportunities for slapstick, clowning, mime and movement. In ‘Contractual Obligations’, we watch as a mother fails to bond with her son and the consequences of that failure for both of them.
“You were desperate to have a baby.”
“Yeah, well, now I’m desperate not to.”
In ‘Armageddon’ we see a child disintegrating as the parents argue and fight their way towards a divorce.
Nobody gets their old life back.
The plays do not require child actors and they both try to illuminate the muddled and frightened feelings of a child caught up in a situation that he or she does not understand. They attempt to show how a child identifies with the unhappiness of his or her parent and how much a child struggles to take the responsibility on his or her shoulders when their family is in trouble.
The common claim is that children are resilient, but a great many social evils that afflict children – drug and alcohol addiction, criminality – might be avoided if we face the fact that children pay a heavy price, one way or another, when they receive inadequate parenting. These plays also emphasise that this is not bound by class or income.