A young and very devious Mary Tilford, tells one heinous lie which unfolds into several more, causing innocent lives to be ruined and even taken.
"The Children's Hour," a stage play written by Lillian Hellman was a source of of altercation when it initially opened in 1934. It was banned in Boston, Chicago, and London because of its subject matter. The Pulitzer Prize committee refused to even consider this play for an award as well. But over time, the play became popular with a film version was made entitled "These Three" and subsequent stage revivals in 1950 and 1952.
The story follows recently engaged Karen Wright and her best friend from college, Martha Dobie. Both become headmistresses of an all-girls boarding school. Their lives fall to shambles when a frequent problem child, Mary Tilford, tells her grandmother that she has witnessed the women having a lesbian affair.
Mary Tilford, played by Richa Parikh, made character choices that were well suited for the role. Frequent arm crossing and pouting portrayed the malicious character. Parikh embodied a little girl who was able to keep the lie going, even though she was clearly unsure of her own truth. Mariana Alved, as Mrs. Tilford, had very precise character development; each reaction to Mary's claims was entirely believable. Because of its strong execution, the grandmother/granddaughter relationship was credible, and left me warmhearted.
Heidi Gomber, gave copious levels of energy to the part of Martha Dobie. When Martha and Karen are in Mrs. Tilford's home trying to surface Mary's lies, Gomber gave a very heated performance. It was praiseworthy to see that she did not resort to empty yelling and static gestures. Gomber developed her character's anger and frustration, making sense of each movement. The audience was able to connect to her distraught state of mind dealing with the inflated lies.
Technically, Deerfield Beach High School chose a very unique angle on this production. With only two settings, the multileveled set rotated to create a different ambience for each scene, making it less demanding on the stage crew. With the set being semi-permanent and not constantly changing, the focus was rightfully on the actors and their individual performances.
Through three acts and two intermissions, the cast and crew of "The Children's Hour" gave a strong and consistent performance of this edgy show from start to finish.