by Elizabeth Jancsy `18
Upon entering Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, I saw the black box that has held countless breathtaking performances produced by the Game before. The atmosphere is comforting and familiar, yet what I was about to see was unlike any production I have previously seen.
The Children’s Hour by Lillian Hellman is a play set in the 1930s, following a scandal that breaks out at an all-girls boarding school. The scandal consists of an alleged love affair between Karen and Martha, two female headmistresses of the respected boarding school. This scandal was conjured by the mischievous Mary, a student at the boarding school who is simply out to cause trouble. Spearheading the news, Mary not only creates trouble for these two women, but the school, the town, and herself.
Madeleine Lambert (playing the role of Karen) and Karen Carpenter (playing the role of Martha) have beautiful chemistry on stage, capable of captivating the audience while also portraying the heartbreaking struggle of dealing with homosexuality in the 1930s. During this time period, homosexuality was very much frowned upon in society, so when news broke that these two women were seeing each other, their lives changed dramatically.
The two women found themselves in constant question by their students and their parents, by their society, and by their loved ones as well. Although it is clear that Mary spreads this rumor out of spite, the audience begins to wonder about the true relationship of Martha and Karen. The text makes you question if there really is chemistry between these two women or if it is all simply made up. While your mind entertains this question, your eyes are also entertained by the sets and costumes of this beautiful production.
The set stays within the essence of the classroom, as though you are sitting amongst the students. Each student dons her own classic school uniform, consisting of plaid skirts and knee socks. It’s arguable that the women who steal the show are the young schoolgirls, who add a bright and youthful touch to the production. Before Mean Girls and the Plastics, the girls of this boarding school formed the ultimate cliques.
It takes a wonderful director to create a team of young ladies who complement each other onstage as if they are seasoned pros at the age of 14. All fun aside, however, the audience must prepare for a rather devastating ending—one that will make you cry but also question the impact that we have on each other. This play made me think about the human approach to empathy and kindness.
As an audience member you grieve for Martha and Karen, but you also find sympathy for Mary. Each character has a struggle that they battle with, making the play very raw and real. If you are in the area of Pawtucket, I would recommend grabbing a ticket to this show. It is a truly remarkable tale, told by a wonderful cast and crew.