My Review of “The Children’s Hour”

Okay, so I have to write this while it’s still fresh in my mind. I wanted to do it last night but frankly, I was exhausted by the time I got home, so I decided that sleep was more important. Now though, I am totally ready to write (mostly because I have nothing else to do).

So I saw a live performance of “The Children’s Hour” last night at the Newport Theatre Arts Center in Newport Beach, and I now regret not bringing home a program for the performance. The show was about three hours long, give or take, so it took some endurance to sit through the whole thing. The fifteen minute intermission was a good chance to get up and stretch though.

As for the show itself, here is how it goes:

SPOILER WARNING (If you don’t know the plot of “The Children’s Hour”, well then too bad, because this show came out like a hundred years ago)

The show boasts a decent size cast, however the main characters are limited to about five.

MARY: Mary is a little girl who is quite fond of telling lies. She begins the show with a small lie about why she was late for class, then proceeds to tell bigger and bigger lies as the show progresses. By the end of the first act, she has set something big in motion. Mary is definitely the main Antagonist and driving force in this play. In this PARTICULAR production, the part was expertly played by a young girl (whose name I don’t know because I forgot to grab a program…) Honestly, I hated her. I wanted her to get killed during the show. She made me so angry, and I mean all of this as a compliment to her talent. This girl did a great job, and she must have been like twelve years old.

KAREN WRIGHT: Miss Wright is co-founder and teacher alongside Miss Dobie at a private boarding school for girls. She first enters the scene with great confidence and authority. She courteously greets each of the girls, and they all seem to love her. She is shown to be very patient, but stern, which is emphasized when she gives Mary her punishment for her serial lying. However, when throughout the course of the second act, we see her slowly lose herself. I got into a debate with one of my friends whom I saw the performance with about whether or not her detachment was a character choice or the actors inability to show emotion. Either way, I thought it worked. I felt like as the shit kept piling up on her plate, she lost more and more of her sanity until she was barely able to feel anything, which finally broke at the end of the play when she couldn’t hold it all in any more. She did a great job, and she wasn’t bad to look at either. Very well cast, and acted.

MARTHA DOBIE: Miss Dobie is Co-founder and teacher at the same private boarding school as Miss Wright (alongside her aunt who is an annoying yet comical character throughout the play [think: JarJar]). From the beginning, she is obviously Karen’s sidekick. I just want to say, I liked her. I liked the character and the actress. From the beginning, she had me interested in and believing her character. My friend (who I debated with) agrees with me on this: She was the A+ Actor of this show (not to say that the other actors werent good). Her performance was delicate, emotional, and passionate.

DR JOE CARDIN: Joe is Mary’s cousin and a Doctor. He is engaged to Karen, and comes into the show with a lot of energy. I really enjoyed his performance–about as much as Martha’s, but for different reasons. His character, for most of the play, is the biggest positive character in the show. Always with a smile, he comes into every scene confident and happy. I particularly enjoyed watching him get progressively more drunk during one scene where he downs like five glasses of whisky. Playing drunk without going overboard is very difficult to do, so kudos on that.

AMELIA TILFORD: Amelia Tilford. Mary’s Grandmother. I think the actress did a good job playing her, but this character was another character whom I just HATED. In the first act, Mary runs away from the school to her grandmothers house where her grandmother attempts to send her back. During her attempts to convince Mary to go, Mary ends up telling the lie that sends the entire plot spiralling out of control. Amelia foolishly believes her granddaughter, and proceeds to ruin the lives of the teachers, Miss Wright and Miss Dobie. This character has a royal stick up her ass, and I think the actress did a marvellous job playing an old woman with a stick up her ass. The fact that I hate her so much must be a good sign.

There were also several other characters whose parts weren’t quite as large, but each one was played excellently. In fact, I want to make a special shout out to the girl who played Rosalie, who I thought did a wonderful job playing an innocent little girl who is manipulated and tortured by Mary.

Overall, I enjoyed the show. My Wife enjoyed the show. And my friends enjoyed the show as well. If you haven’t seen “The Children’s Hour” before, I highly recommend seeing this version of it. The area where the theatre is in is VERY nice, overlooking Newport Harbor. The building itself is quite nice, and the theatre, though small, is clean, fairly comfortable, and perfect for a show this size. It’s quite obvious that everyone involved worked their asses off to make this show a reality, and I think they have succeeded in bringing it to life. The show runs until February 23rd, so if you haven’t seen it before, you should definitely check it out. The show was a Broadway hit when it first came out, and has remained popular ever since. It is a classic, and a piece of American Theatre that carries deep meanings and insight into the human psyche. I did however, have a few problems with the script, but that is probably just from the fact that it was written eighty years ago.

This would make for a great date, but is definitely something I wouldn’t bring a child to. The theatre recommends 18+, I kind of agree. It’s not too harsh for a 16 year old, but most teens wouldn’t be able to appreciate it.

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