Lenae McKee Price, Lauren Argo, Arabella Paulovich, & Lexie Stites in The Children’s Hour. Photo courtesy Pandora Productions.

The Children’s Hour

By Lillian Hellman
Directed by Georgette Kleier

Review by Kate Barry

Entire contents are copyright © 2016 Kate Barry. All rights reserved.

Scandal hits the upper class when a young girl’s rumor spins a web of chaos. In Pandora Production’s The Children’s Hour, manners and reputations are no match for betrayal and secrets. This production explores womanhood both young and old, as well as the relationships defined though different perceptions, with the help of bold visuals and staging, to create a world shaken by a seemingly innocent source.

Georgette Kleier’s direction uses adolescent gossip and petty lies as the foundation for action spins out of control. Dramatic lighting and sound effects of whispering echoes create this world of chaos and disorder while, maintaining an illusion of high society. Each scene is preceded by a bold yet callous interlude where young girls are creating and tearing the scenery around them, providing striking imagery for Lillian Hellman’s drama.

In this world of chaos, Mary Tilford runs the roost. Arabella Paulovich plays Mary as a manipulative schoolgirl influenced by her loneliness and unaffected by consequence, with a dash of complete disregard. Paulovich’s villainous youngster is an outcast thrust into a bully role, as evidenced by her interactions with her classmates; she proves to us that she didn’t choose this hand but she’ll play what is dealt to her. Helen Lister, Stephanie Solis and Lexie Stites provide excellent portrayals of Peggy, Evelyn and Rosalie respectively. These young actresses exhibit great talent as they play into Mary’s deceit with fear and intimidation.

At the center of Mary’s lies are her teachers, Martha, played by Lenae McKee Price, and Karen, played by Lauren Argo. Argo and Price’s performances are actualized and nuanced in their attempt to settle schoolyard gossip. Martha is a spinster who finds self-acceptance as she narrowly falls victim to paranoia. Price does well to slowly reveal Martha’s personal truths in the face of accusation, resulting in a confession that is both empowering and heart wrenching. As Karen, Lauren Argo carries the bulk of the emotional weight as the life and career her character worked hard to create crumbles around her. Argo’s performance is graceful and steady as she disciplines Mary and faces the accusations thrown at her, which results in a moving emotional turn at the plays conclusion.

Joe Hatfield as Karen’s skeptical yet steadfast fiance, Joseph, and Melissa Combs as Martha’s eccentric aging aunt, Lilly, deliver strong supporting performances as well. Carol Tyree Williams brings a subtly forceful portrayal of Mary’s grandmother Amelia, a woman protected by tradition yet fueled by ignorance.

The Children’s Hour

March 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, & 19 at 7:30pm
March 13 & 20 at 5:30pm
March 19 at 2:00pm

Pandora Productions
At The Henry Clay Theater
604 South Third Street
Louisville, KY 40203

Kate BarryKate Barry earned her Bachelors in English with a Theater minor from Bellarmine University in 2008. She has worked with many different companies around town including Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions and you have probably purchased tickets from her at that little performing arts center on Main Street as well. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. She has written for Leo Weekly and TheatreLouisville.com as well. Thanks for reading!