An Emotionally Gripping Production
Amongst all the pandemonium of the Wright-Dobie school, one little girl stands out. With fire-red hair, a sickly sweet smile, and a sadistic gleam in her eyes, it is immediately clear that one of these things is not like the others. Langley High School's production of “The Children's Hour” by Lillian Hellman comments on the way gossip and lies can destroy lives.
The Children's Hour by Lillian Hellman, written in 1934 depicts the story of Mary Tilford, a wicked little girl whose lies about a homosexual relationship between two teachers at the Wright- Dobie School spiral out of control. The Children's Hour was first premiered on Broadway at Maxine Elliott's Theatre, where it ran for more than two years.
The moment Lily Brock (Mary Tilford) stepped onto the stage, the mood of the scene immediately shifted. Lily Brock had almost portrayed two characters-- the two sides to Mary Tilford. One a malicious bully, and the other a phony sweetheart. Brock's facial expressions and vocal characterization filled the room with fear. Brock had a clear, deep understanding of her character. Tilford's complex, psychopathic characterization was not an easy role to portray, yet Brock pulled it off seamlessly.
Madeleine Chalk (Karen Wright) and Kathleen Welch (Martha Dobie) although both high school students, portrayed adults very believably. Chalk's demeanor and elegant voice took a more subtle approach to her character, which was refreshing amongst all the other powerful characters on stage. Welch delivered a powerful monologue, which was the highlight of the show. Her dynamic body language showed her development as a character throughout the show.
The elaborate set was dressed impeccably well, and the actors made great use of their space. What was even more impressive were the quick and seamless scene changes. Completely flipping the set and all furniture in a matter of minutes, while in complete darkness. The accuracy and neatness of the scene change resembled magic when the lights came back up to reveal a completely different set.
While no one in the show was wearing a microphone, the projection and diction by the actors was amazing, and almost no lines were lost. Because The Children's Hour features characters of all different ages, and all the actors were in high school, it was expected that age differences would be hard to differentiate. However, this was the opposite, as all actors did a fantastic job of portraying their ages, and the old age makeup allowed the audience to make distinctions between age groups.
The Children's Hour comments on many controversial topics, and the characters in it are complex, and difficult to understand. Yet, Langley High School seemed to understand it perfectly, and put on an emotionally gripping production of The Children's Hour.