The Children’s Hour to be performed in Harborough

Market Harborough Drama Society cast members during rehearsals for The Children's Hour, from left, Holly Brankin-Frisby, Lucy Dearing, Christie Ziebis, Hannah Bentley, Sarah  Parker and Viv Crowther
Market Harborough Drama Society cast members during rehearsals for The Children's Hour, from left, Holly Brankin-Frisby, Lucy Dearing, Christie Ziebis, Hannah Bentley, Sarah Parker and Viv Crowther

The setting of an all-girls’ school in a place where everyone knows everyone creates a claustrophobic and powerful atmosphere for Market Harborough Drama Society’s next production.

The society is staging American dramatist and screenwriter Lillian Hellman’s hit play The Children’s Hour at Harborough Theatre, in Church Square, from Tuesday, April 14, until Saturday, April 18.

Written during the 1930s and set in the United States, the play explores contemporary concerns about prejudice, power, the abuse of trust and the damaging effects of a lie that gets out of control.

Hellman’s play follows two highly respected female teachers who are wrongly accused of being lovers by a malicious pupil.

The rumour mill is set in motion and a scandal develops, enveloping the entire school community.

But when the gossip is discovered to be childish invention, will anything be the same again?

It caused controversy when it first appeared in 1934, and the play was banned in London, Chicago and Boston.

When the play was revived in 1952, Hellman was summoned before the anti-Communist Committee for Un-American Activities and she ended up being blacklisted as a writer.

The Children’s Hour has remained an enduring story.

It was made into a 1962 film starring Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine and James Garner, and also proved to be a hugely popular West End hit in 2011 when its revival starred Keira Knightley, Elisabeth Moss, Ellen Burstyn and Carol Kane.

Among the strong female cast for the society’s version of the show are Holly Brankin-Frisby, Lucy Dearing, Christie Ziebis, Hannah Bentley, Sarah Parker and Viv Crowther

Tickets cost between £7.50 and £10 and are available from the society’s website www.harboroughtheatre.com or from the box office at the theatre, in Church Square on Tuesday and Saturday mornings.

The curtain goes up at 7.45pm each night. There is also a 2.30pm matinee on Saturday, April 18, during its six-show run.