I have to say this is one of my favorite plays and Hellman is one of my favorite female writers. I remember when I got to Graduate school and had to read a ton of plays (yes, I have a degree in theatre) there were so few female playwrights in the canon that when I read Hellman it was like a revelation.
Hellman was a controversial figure from her celebrated fight with Mary McCarthy, to her relationship with Dashiell Hammett, to her refusing to name names before HUAC, so sometimes her playwrighting is overshadowed by her celebrity.
She was, and still is one, of the foremost female playwrights and her play The Children’s Hour is getting a highly touted and star studded revival on the West End with Keira Knightley and Elisabeth Moss with a side of Ellen Burstyn and Carol Kane thrown in.
For those unfamiliar with the play it’s about two female boarding school teachers who are accused of being lesbians. But the play is more about the power of the lie and how people rush to judgment without facts. Sound familiar?
The play was written in 1934! and was a huge scandal. According to a piece in The Guardian the play was deemed too scandalous to receive the Pulitzer Prize that it forced NY critics to create the Drama Critics Circle in protest.
If you are interested in female playwrights you have to read some of Hellman’s plays. The play runs in London until the end of April.