The Children’s Hour at the Bob Hope Theatre Review

The Children’s hour is an American play from 1934 by Lillian Hellman. The vastly acclaimed play was made into a movie released just prior to Christmas of 1961 under the name ‘The Loudest Whisper’ in the UK, starring the likes of Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine and James Garner. The Bob Theatre Actors Company has brought the play back to life with their production of ‘The Children’s Hour’ which is directed by Colin Hill.

Many probably remember ‘The Children’s Hour’ story of a troublesome student at an all-girls boarding school who convinces her grandmother that the owners of the school – Karen Wright and Martha Dobie – are having a lesbian affair. This lie leads to the ruin of relationships and the headmistresses’ careers in this drama play.

Having not seen the film or previous renditions of the play I was unaware what to expect and was intrigued to find out what happens. I’m glad I had no previous knowledge of the play because the surprise at the end had me shocked. All the cast did very well, especially Helena who played Mary, because you wanted to slap the spoilt brat throughout the play. The Children’s Hour shows just how much one simple lie can escalate in to an enormous event that changes everyone’s loves forever. I quite enjoyed the show which was a pleasant surprise on a very nice night.

The Children’s Hour is on through till the 11th March. So if you’re not busy, grab a nice cheap beer and enjoy the show.  It’s playing at the Bob Hope Theatre (formerly known as Eltham Little Theatre) which was developed in 1943 to promote the theatrical and musical arts within the Eltham area. The immediate thought upon arriving at the theatre is it seems like a little church and in fact it was a former church hall that was occupied by the Eltham Little Theatre from 1946. How the Bob Hope Theatre name came about is quite interesting. The Eltham little theatre was facing permanent closure in early 1979 when the Church lease ceased. Bob Hope was an actor and comedian born in Eltham who also delved into numerous regions over his 80 year career, including a stint in golf. He visited the theatre in 1980 and offered to help keep the place open with golf tournaments in his name which raised £58,000 for the theatre. This allowed the building to be purchased and renovated. Upon this purchase in 1982 the theatre was renamed to Bob Hope Theatre and has been ever since.

Bob Hope Theatre has just finished refurbishment and looks great. The new foyer looks very nice and complements the bar area quite well. The Theatre is a nice size with comfortable seating and nice high seating so you can see over the person in front. Most of the stage was kept as close to the original as possible but the age of it adds a nice touch to the atmosphere.

Reporter: Dan Gibson

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