It’s no secret that the WGBH Drama Club enjoys a messy drama. Over-the-top antics, heroes behaving badly, fancy frocks, and a dash of comedy? Sign us up. But we also have a deep and abiding love for a true tragic drama: King Lear, Bleak House, The Handmaid’s Tale. The thought that goes into crafting these powerful shows, the richness of their characters' struggles, and the poignancy of their storylines sticks with us long after the credits roll.

Masterpiece’s The Child in Time is one such tragic piece. The film focuses on a young couple, Stephen and Julie Lewis, a few years after their child, Kate, goes missing. At the nadir of a downward spiral, Stephen and Julie move through their lives separately; Kate a recluse in their country home, and Stephen struggling to retain his grip on reality. Through the tragedy at its center, The Child in Time explores the intricacies of childhood, adulthood, responsibility, and loss — and the complicated emotions at the intersection of those themes.

It’s a fascinating tale, and a haunting one, with a script adapted from the eponymous novel by Ian McEwan (Amsterdam, Atonement) and skillfully portrayed by an amazing cast. Let’s take a closer look.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Lewis
Heading up the cast is the inimitable Benedict Cumberbatch. While Masterpiece fans probably best know him from Sherlock, he’s no stranger to the box office: he’s headlined such movies as Dr. Strange, The Imitation Game, and Star Trek: Into Darkness. But his roots are in British telly, with turns in shows like Silent Witness, Heartbeat, and Fortysomething. Cumberbatch not only brings an impressive gravity to his role in The Child in Time, but he also serves as the film’s Executive Producer.

A woman with shoulder length brown hair wears a blue linen shirt. She looks concerned, and stares at the camera.

Kelly MacDonald as Julie Lewis
If the woman portraying Julie Lewis looks familiar, that’s because you’ve definitely seen (or heard of) her before. Kelly MacDonald has had her fair share of impressive roles, beginning with the dry, sarcastic Diane in Trainspotting. Since that film, she’s shown that she can do just about anything, from parlor-room dramas like Gosford Park, to gritty thrillers like The Victim; sci-fi dystopia like Black Mirror: Hated in the Nation, to voice acting as Merida in Brave. Child in Time sees MacDonald deliver a powerful, heartbreaking performance.

Stephen Campbell Moore as Charles Darke
Regardless of your taste in media, Stephen Campbell Moore is probably familiar to you. Drama lovers will recognize him as Major Chetwode from the Downton Abbey feature film, or as James Delafield in Lark Rise to Candleford. Those with a taste for box office fare may have spotted him in Season of the Witch or Johnny English Reborn. Heck, he’s even lent his voice to the video games Dragon Age: Inquisition, Final Fantasy XIV, and Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag. As Charles Darke, a man who longs to return to childhood, Moore brings a sense of pathos to the tale.

A woman with short brown hair in an emerald top speaks with a person that only appears as a blurry silhouette to the right of frame.

Saskia Reeves as Thelma Darke
Rounding out The Child in Time cast is Saskia Reeves as Thelma, Charles’ long-suffering wife. Here is where the film flags a bit, IMHO: while McEwan's novel has Thelma as a quantum physicist who’s profession lends a strange framing for Stephen’s visions, the film relegates her to the role of wife and confidant, diminishing a powerful storyline. That said, Reeves fulfills her role admirably, which is no surprise when looking back at her resume. Reeves is a true BritDram actor, having taken on roles in some of our favorite series: Luther, Inspector Lewis, Waking the Dead, Inspector Lynley, Midsomer Murders, Wolf Hall, Shetland and Silent Witness.

With performers like this headlining a film, it’s hard not to put it on the "must watch" list. Take a little time today to enjoy this fantastic cast in The Child in Time on WGBH Passport.