5 April 2011

The Children's Hour at the Comedy Theatre

The Children's Hour is another of those plays that I got tempted in to seeing via an offer through work (thanks Elaine!).

The name Keira Knightley was bit of a pull too but, to be honest, apart from knowing that it was a name that I should know I knew little about her.

They play, dating from 1934, tells the story of two school teachers who, after years of struggling, are starting to make a real success of their venture when a child's lies about their relationship throws their lives in to turmoil.

It takes the first half of the play to introduce the characters and the scene and then the story really unfolds in the second half.

In addition to the two teachers (shown here) there is the tell-tale schoolgirl and her aunt who is material in giving the story legs.

And therein lies the strength and weakness of the play. The story burns slowly as the morale mood of the time eats in to the women's lives. I'll not say more about the plot at the risk of spoiling it but I will say that there were a couple of surprises at the end. Well, they surprised me anyway.

The plot is a real strength, as is the acting of the two women. They are very convincing both as earnest teachers and as bemused victims.

I found the stronger characters, the young girl and her aunt, to be less believable and their actions were never fully explained. I don't blame the two actors for this at all, the weakness is in the play's characterisation of them but the play is much more about the plot than the people so this is only a minor gripe.

I'm not sure that the play is worth the hype that it's getting because of its stars but if you look past the names this is a good story well acted and that's plenty enough for a good night out.

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