The Children’s Hour

By Lillian Hellmanpride films and palys

Directed by Derek Bertelsen

Produced by Pride Films and Plays

At Collaboraction in the Flat Iron Building, Chicago

Powerful remount of Hellman’s 1934 classic drama of love and lies

The creatives at Pride Films and Plays, under the tight direction from Derek Bertelsen, have mounted a rivetingly powerful and totally honest version of Lillian Hellman’s landmark play The Children’s Hour. We meet a group of girls attending a new boarding school on a rural New England farm. We meet the precious teen girls as they prepare for their exams. But Mary ( Nora Elise Ulrey) the selfish,  narcissistic teen bent on lying to get her immediate desires. She manipulates classmates and her grandmother,  Mrs. Amelia Tilford (Joan McGrath) into any scenario that fits her latest whim.We see that the two founding ladies who run the school,  Karen Wright (Britni Tozzi) and  Martha Dobie (Whitney Morse) are devoted teachers who have the children’s best interest at heart.

pride films and palys This landmark play (for 1934 audiences), The Children’s Hour,  is a drama set in an all-girls boarding school run by two women, Karen Wright and Martha Dobie. An angry student, Mary Tilford, runs away from the school and to avoid being sent back she tells her grandmother that the two headmistresses are having a lesbian affair. The accusation proceeds to destroy the women’s careers, relationships and lives. pride films and palys

Hellman’s drama is nicely structured and in the Pride Films and Plays’ production depends on the acting chops of Nora Lisa Ulrey who plays the nasty child with a scary dose of vile. She is believable. Joan McGrath is most effective as the trusting grandmother while Britini Tozzi is the tormented co-founder while Whitney Morse is the steady other school leader and friend to Tozzi’s Karen. I also found Nelson Rodriguez as Dr. Joseph Cardin, a most sincere and loyal to both troubled women.

This production does justice to Lillian Hellman’s classic look at love, lies and the effects false charges can have on an entire community. The ensemble acting here is terrific and the staging and pace works to establish the dramatic arch and enough tension to deliver the work’s powerful message. 2014 is starting off nicely with this gem.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: January 10, 2014

For more info checkout The Children’s Hour page at

At the Flat Iron Building,  1579 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL, call 1-800-838-3006,, tickets $25- $30, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 2 hours, 30 minutes with intermission, through February 9, 2014

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