The Childrens Hour - performed October 1983

By Lillian Hellman

Performed with the kind permission of Josef Weinberger

Director - Dennis Murfitt


(in order of appearance)

Peggy Rogers Diana Woodley
Catherine Gillian Riley
Lois Fisher Lisa Scattergood
Mrs Lily Mortar Janet Cousins
Evelyn Munn Allison Hawkins
Rosalie Wells Alison Brett
Mary Tilford Heather Steel
Karen Wright Judy Hussey
Martha Dobie Vivienne Wheatley
Dr Joseph Cardin Adrian Bolton
Agatha Valerie Taylor
Mrs Amelia Tilford Wendy Colbourne
Grocery Boy Christopher Mead

Production Team

Peter Westbrook, Jenny Rollings, Bruce Emeny, Maurice Barber, Derek Cobbold, Kevin Brown, Greg Garrod, Geoffrey Taylor, Ian Tucker, Valerie Taylor, Gill Baxter, Patience Ling, Viv Wheatley, and other volunteers not mentioned.

The Play

Martha Dobie and Karen Wright are both highly respected women, and together they successfully run a boarding school for girls. Despite their efforts over the years, their reputations are instantly torn to shreds when a troublesome and malicious pupil starts an entirely unfounded rumour, which precipitates tragedy for the women. It is finally discovered that the gossip was pure invention, but by that time irreparable damage has been done, and once treasured friends have failed the test of loyalty. An examination of faith in truth, The Children's Hour explores the tendency of many people, when presented with cruel gossip, to believe in the worst.


The Children’s Hour, written by Lillian Hellman, Manifest Theatre Group, former British Legion Hall, Manningtree. A Child’s lie leads to tragedy for two women teachers seeking success with a girl’s boarding school. May, a spoiled brat, runs away from school and makes her grandmother think the two teachers are lovers; Grandmother immediately acts for the moral safety of the child, taking her away from school and a slander case follows. The agonising trial over, the two teachers are left with their dreams shattered, nowhere to hide from the stares and no way to pass the long hours. Despite support from the loyal Joe, played by the very capable Adrian Bolton, Karen, one teacher played by Judy Hussey almost cracks up under the strain. The sad ending is not unexpected, and the audience is left to consider what might have been without one girl’s dishonesty. It is a brave decision to take on such a serious play as The Children’s Hour, but again the Manifest Theatre Group provides solid entertainment. Admirable acting from Heather Steel – the bullying and lying Mary Tilford, and strong performances from Vivienne Wheatley, the other wronged teacher, and Wendy Colbourne the worried grandmother, keep the audience on its toes as the sorry tale unfolds. Forgetfulness with lines stilted a little of the performance, but most players flowed smoothly through the powerful script; especially during the many rows on stage.

Photo Shoot

Standing - Christopher, Adrian, Janet, Judy, Viv, ??, Val
Sitting - Allison, Alison, Lisa, Gillian, Diane, ??