The Children's Hour

Date 22nd November 2014
Society Stevenage Lytton Players
Venue The Lytton Theatre
Type of Production Play
Director Dave Slade

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Author: Vicki Avery

‘The Children's Hour’, the first of Lillian Hellman’s plays is rarely produced today. It is a play that concerns frenzy amongst teenage girls with an unpleasant leader among them who brings catastrophe down on the heads of adults. The subject, lesbianism, made the play exceptionally daring for the 1930s and it was not permitted on a London stage until 1960.

Kizzie Hopkins played the vile and scandalous schoolgirl, Mary Tillford. This performance was immaculate. The chilling glares and the intelligent delivery of the lines gave a worthy performance. Kizzie Hopkins is definitely someone we should watch develop in the future

Grace Maynard as Karen Wright again gave a stunning performance and was rightly paired with Sophie Ashby as Martha Dobie who also gave us faultless characterization and intelligent delivery of dialogue. Both actresses delivered some precious moments throughout the play but particularly in the final scenes.

Ben Willis played the school Doctor, Joseph Cardin and fiancée of Karen with charm and capability. There seemed to be an unconscious need to stoop when talking to Karen and I felt this did not particularly suit him. Never the less he gave a commendable an accurate portrayal of the character. Well done.

Strong support was given by Caitlyn Gee as Rosalie Wells, Allie Neal as Mrs. Amelia Tilford and Maxine Holmes as Mrs. Lilly Mortar. 

The ensemble of schoolgirls set the scene well and I was impressed to see the development in each of the girl’s characters even though they spent a relatively short time on stage.

Diction was good and American accents convincing. There was excellent use made of those quiet pauses that gave the audience time to think about the implications of what was occurring.

The set was appropriate to the time line and scene changes were slick and uncompromised. Each member of the crew had a specific job to do and the audience enjoyed watching the morphing of one location into another.

Lighting was good but perhaps the table lamp could have been switched on for evening time.

There was good attention to detail for props, in particular the photographs and knick-knacks. With the audience sitting so close to the stage these details must be accurate. Well done.

Costumes suited the period but the girdles around the girl’s gymslips would never have been tied in a bow. They were tied round the waist in a tie knot and then pulled in. (I remember it well!)

This was an intensely thought provoking piece of theatre and one which this group of actors should be proud of. Congratulations to you all.