On Saturday night my husband and I attended the first night of previews for Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour at The Comedy Theatre in London’s Panton Street. The wonderful cast included Keira Knightley, Elizabeth Moss, Tobias Menzies, Ellen Burstyn and Carol Kane.The Children’s Hour is the moving story of the devastating power of a lie. Keira Knightley and Elizabeth Moss play Karen and Martha, two women who have established a school for girls in the 1930’s. After much scrimping and saving it seems their dream of an educational academy for young ladies is finally flourishing. Karen is about to marry the man she loves (Tobias Menzies) and it seems that everything is going well. But a troubled and unhappy girl named Mary Tilford (Bryony Hannah) is about to put paid to all that. Overheard and misunderstood conversations lead to her formulating a terrible lie in an attempt to convince her doting grandmother (played by Ellen Burstyn) to allow her to leave the school forever.
The Children’s Hour is the story of that lie, of how a twisted untruth can affect everything in its path. The play also explores the themes of love, forgiveness and redemption.
The wonderful international cast all gave powerful performances and I cannot speak highly enough of this play. It is definitely a must see. One small caution though - this play is challenging and thought-provoking. However, while it may be far from uplifting, it is a wonderful chance to see some incredible ensemble performances and West End theatre at its very best.
The Children’s Hour is booking until 30th April 2011. For tickets and availability click here.