The Children


47 pages

The Children

| 1999 | London, Great Britain
Joe, Jill, Stranger, Mum, Man, Matt, Ron, Adam, Don, Marvin, Stacey, Lisa, Tasha, Becca, Gemma, Naomi, Paul, Frank
Number of acts

The Children was performed for the first time on 11 February 2000, by pupils from the Manor Community College in Cambridge, in partnership with the Classworks Theatre Company. The play was meant to be performed by two adult actors and a group of pupils, for a teenage audience. The children’s lines are all indicated under the mention “Friends”, which gave the play some leeway: as the play toured, the number of children actors could thus be adapted.

As in The Under Room, another puppet play by Edward Bond, The Children features a dummy about half the size of an actor – here of the main child, Joe. This stuffed puppet, dressed like a pupil, will be the victim of the human actors’ violence, as would also be the case in The Under Room.

Plot summary

A child sets a house on fire and runs away with his friends

On an abandoned lot, Joe talks to his puppet. He cannot bring himself to abandon it and so concludes that he must kill it. He then hits it several times with a brick. At home, his mother is most evidently drunk. She indicates a house and forces him to set it on fire. Joe then meets with his friends and lets them know what he is about to do. At that moment, Stranger, a child none of the other children knows, arrives, but he is soon driven off the lot. Joe’s friends make a deal: one by one, as the dummy is lying on the ground, they drop a brick on it and promise to keep Joe’s secret. The latter sets the house on fire. When he learns that a young boy has died in the fire, he decides to run off to Peterborough with his friends. Before they leave, a man faints before them. The children take care of him and carry him on a stretcher.

Once on the road, the world seems to have turned into a wasteland. Some children begin to disappear. Some do not want to continue on carrying the man, although Joe refuses to abandon him. Others are accused of having gone to the police to tell on them. But then the man kills a child with a brick during the night. After the man murders Joe’s remaining friends, the latter is alone. Stranger comes back as a ghost and tells Joe that he has forgiven him. The man from the stretcher is in fact Stranger’s father, and he still wants to kill the child who caused the fire. The play ends with a very short scene, in which Joe says he is “the last person in the world”.

Composition date

First performance

Cambridge, Great Britain, 11 February 2000 -

Manor Community College, Classworks Theatre Company

Publications and translations


Edward Bond, The Children ; & Have I None, London: Methuen Drama, 2000.

  • Edward Bond, Les Enfants / Onze débardeurs, Jérôme Hankins (trad.), Montreuil: Arche Éditeur, 2022.

Literary tones
Dramatic, Tragic, Fantastic
Animations techniques
Mannequin, Actor and puppet
Young audiences


Theatrical techniques


Written by

Manon Nafraicheur