Thursday, 5 May 2011

So what initially attracted you to these cheap seats to see two mega-famous actors on stage?

Slightly late post about the Children's Hour which Kate and I saw on Monday night at the Comedy Theatre.
The Children's Hour tickets
What attracted me? Well - I think the title says it all. It's not a play I'd heard of and the asking price for tickets was around £60. But two things sealed the deal:
a) the chance to see the astoundingly attractive Keira Knightley (best role ever - probably Bend it Like Beckham) and Elizabeth Moss (most famous as Mad Men's Peggy, but will always think of her as Zoe Bartlet) and
b) Kate's discovery of cheaper seats with restricted view. Turns out the restricted view was barely anything - especially given my tolerance for £5 seats at the ROH. 

So we settled in for the show. And it's true the play is a bit clunky in places. It's also true the American accents went alarmingly wrong at times, deforming into posh Brit or bizarrely mangled vowels. But  I really enjoyed it.

The play is set in the thirties, built around two female friends and has an almost entirely female cast-list "When a troubled teenager starts to spin a web of deceit, all around her are soon caught up in it.  Karen Wright (Keira Knightley) and Martha Dobie (Elisabeth Moss) have worked for years to establish their all-girls boarding school, and now, with the school flourishing and Karen on the verge of marriage, their lives and loves finally appear secure. However, when malicious student Mary runs away from the school and seeks to avoid being sent back, she draws on hearsay, gossip, and her own imagination, to concoct a story that threatens the school, the marriage, and their entire futures. "

The plot was captivating - and Mary was spell-binding in her manipulation and bullying of the girls in her class. It made me think of 'We need to talk about Kevin' in the way that some adults saw straight through her lies and others were caught up - and Bryony Hannah was amazingly convincing as a young teenager, uncomfy in her skin but very confident in her own powers and with just an edge of vulnerability that left me twitching with anger at her and a slight worry that maybe there was something going on offstage that excused or explained her.

I also liked that it was a play full of women, and that the drama was driven by lies and their impact on a small community and on relationships - rather than by women bitching about each other and competing for men (or with men). 

There are several good reviews from when the play opened, including in the Independent, and the Stage. There's also some fairly trenchant critiques of the play itself as well as the performances. I'm really glad to have seen it - and them - for what I think was a fair price. 


  1. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'm afraid that these days when, after adding in the cost of travel, a London theatre visit cost me into the three figure mark I have to restrict my theatre going to Stratford. Still, I have just seen an excellent 'Macbeth', so I mustn't grumble.

  2. Thanks for the comment Annie - I read your review of Macbeth and it made me wish I lived near Stratford - I've never been!