Perview by Paul Nelson
LILLIAN Hellman is one of my favourite writers. It would not
be too bold of me to say that, perhaps, she is one of the best
American writers of the Twentieth Century.
Plays, films, books of autobiography and even a musical (Candide)
have come from her pen. She was also the long time lover of Dasheill
Hammett and the FBI had a file on her. She refused to testify
for the Unamerican Activities Committee and inform against her
Communist friends, and it appears she herself, though left wing,
was never a card-carrying member of the Communist party.
In the Thirties, she wrote The Children's Hour and in a curious
way it almost foretells the situation that overheated and downed
many of Hollywood's stars and directors in the McCarthy witch
hunts of the Fifties. The play has been filmed twice, as These
Three in 1936, and The Loudest Whisper in 1961, both directed
by William Wyler.
The Children's Hour is about a spoiled brat at a boarding school
who can't get her way and accuses two of the teachers of having
a lesbian affair. The devastating effect this has on the lives
of the two is what the play is about, and the resulting breakdown
of the proposed marriage of one of them and their despair is given
a riveting production at the Union Theatre.
The Union is actually becoming one of the very best little fringe
theatres in London. You are much more likely to find me there
than in the West End, and this production is proof of what I am
driving at, the production is quite perfect.
It gives scope for some excellent acting and considering the
enormous size of the cast, it has given its director a lot of
scope for necessary action. It also is an emotionally moving experience
for the audience.
There are some ripe and gorgeous performances, starting with
Tracy Wiles, as Martha (pictured right), and Anna Brecon, as Karen
(above). These two are exceptional in an exceptional cast. They
get smashing support from some extremely satisfying performances,
Gil Kolirin, Susan Travers who believes everything the girl says
until it is too late, and the girl herself Tara Quinn.
I was also found Catherine Millsom, Bonnie Nordling and the cameo
from Edward Inglis great additions to the cast.
However, with such a large cast, all uniformly good, the accolade
must fall on Danny Ghossain, the director, who has taken the play
and given it a careful piece of direction that I am sure Miss
Hellman would have applauded.
It's another hit for the Union Theatre.
The Children's Hour by Lillian Hellman, Directed by Danny
Ghossain, Setting Designed by Gabriella Csanyi Wills, Lighting
by Ben Shotton, Publicity KWPR (020 7721 76210) WITH: Anna Brecon
(Karen Wright), Lauren Buglioli (Evelyn Munn), Minnie Crowe (Catherine),
Martha Dancy (Lois Fisher), Kimberley Godsall (Leslie), Bryony
Hannah (Peggy), Emily Hanrahan (Agatha), Edward Inglis (Grocery
Boy), Gil Kolirin (Dr Joseph Cardin), Sarah Love (Janet), Catherine
Millsom (Helen Burton), Ursula Mohan (Mrs Lily Mortar), Bonnie
Nordling (Rosalie Wells), Tara Quinn (Mary Tilford), Susan Travers
(Mrs Amelia Tilford), Tracy Wiles (Martha Dobie). Presented by
Thirsty Dog Productions at the Union Theatre, 204 Union Street,
Southwark, London SE1. Tickets 020 7261 9876.