The Children’s Hour

We went to see The Children’s Hour at the Comedy Theatre in London on 28th February 2011. After a very slow start this play stormed to the finish.

This play by Lillian Hellman was written in 1933 and was banned in the UK and other places. It tells the story of two young women, Karen and Martha, who have been friends since school who run a school for girls. Karen is engaged to Joe. One of the girls, Peggy, is a misfit and unhappy at this school so she lies to her guardian aunt, Mary Tilford, that Karen and Martha are lesbians. Mary then uses her position in society to devastating effect.

The first half is very slow going. It sets the scene in the school and shows the relationships between the school girls and Peggy; between the girls and their teachers; between Karen and Martha and between Karen and Joe. It seemed to take a long time to set up the story. The second half is where the all action is with lots of tension and interest.

The acting is very good. Eve Ponsonby as the lying Peggy easily makes the audience lose sympathy with her. Bryony Hannah as the New England lady about town, Mary, is convincing. This is a women’s play and so Tobias Menzies does not have much of a role as Joe. The stars are undoubtedly Keira Knightley and Elisabeth Moss as Karen and Martha. They are powerful and believable.

A great evening’s entertainment.

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