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The Children’s Hour is a tense teaser

NOVEMBER 1, 2012
by Jenn Summers ’13, Contributing Writer

The effort that goes into a play’s production? Countless hours, multiple rehearsals, and thirty or so student backstage workers all on night number one. Seeing the audience’s reaction when the lights go down at the end? Priceless.

Furman Theatre Department’s first presentation of the year, the 1930’s drama The Children’s Hour, opened in the Playhouse Wednesday to a modestly sized crowd of around 50.

The play, written by Lillian Hellman, deals with rumors, lies, lesbian affairs, and the power of homophobia and friendship in an intense two-and-a-half hour drama.

The plot centers around an all girls school where two female teachers are suspected of being involved in an affair by a problem student, zealously played by freshman Erin Barnett. Barnett’s performance of the bipolar and sadistic young girl, like several of the actors, was at times exhausting in its non-stop emotional intensity.

When the two teachers, Karen, played by junior Taylor Davidson, and Martha, played by senior Caroline Davis, face the judgment of their community in light of their pupil’s accusation, their lives begin to fall apart dramatically and swiftly.

Theatre arts professor Jay Oney directed the play and stage manager Morgan Vance, a sophomore theatre arts major, handled the backstage organization. Two non-student actors, including the marvelously despicable Mrs. Mortar played by Carol Sutton, supported a cast of 14 actors. Davis, who delivered a stellar performance, also designed the phenomenal costumes.

“Sometimes for the first night nerves can get the better of you. But I thought it went really well and that everyone did a good job,” said Vance who is debuting in her role as stage manager.

The set, staging, and lighting showed a great deal of detail, requiring two 10-minute intermissions to arrange. But the incorporation of small props from a puzzle game to a whiskey bottle resting on a table made each little table knick-knack play a small role.

Overall, the play culminated in a high-intensity final scene that leaves the audience wondering what the future holds. The tense question of whether the rumor is true or not will keep you on the edge of your seat up until its dire end.

The Children’s Hour is a powerful message about the importance of interpretation and nuance and the power of a child’s testimony. The play continues on Saturday, Nov. 3, and Wednesday, Nov. 7 through Saturday, Nov. 10 in the Furman Playhouse, with a matinee at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 4.

Last updated November 1, 2012
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