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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 22, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 21
The Children's Hour stolen by adults
Arts & Entertainment
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The Children's Hour stolen by adults

AROUET THEATRE
THE CHILDREN'S HOUR
THE BALLARD UNDERGROUND
May 14-31


'The Children's Hour,' written by Lillian Hellman and first produced on Broadway in 1934, is being presented by the Arouet Company in a rare production. Not often seen, it is an appropriate vehicle during our strife for same sex equality.

There is an old theatre adage, second-night let down. Adrenaline is running so high on opening night that it is rarely impossible to maintain that sort of energy on the second night of a play, which is when this reviewer saw it.

The biggest offender of this let down was Rachel Sedwick in the role of Mary, the bratty, spoiled young girl responsible for the rumor at the center of the play. She jumped cues, went up on her lines and was a right mess at times. In addition, I didn't believe anything she said or did for a moment. However, given time to settle into the character, I'm sure she will rally.

The rest of the children were accurate in their portrayals, with a standout performance by Olivia Sterne as Rosalie. Ms. Sterne played the character most bullied by Mary and yields to her foe with impish delight. When called upon to save herself from being revealed as a thief by Mary, she rails and lies as one who is in great peril of losing her life.

Now to the adults: Lindsay W. Evans as Martha and Kayla Lian as Karen; Mary Murfin Bayley, Mrs. Tilford; Sally Brady, Mrs. Mortar; Joanna Goff, Agatha, the maid; Tom Stewart, Dr. Joe Cardin. I will first deal with the supporting actors.

Ms. Bayley was perfectly stern as the straight-laced and permissive grandmother of Mary. She had just the right amount of indignation towards Martha and Karen when she hears of the rumor, with the appropriate loving towards Mary at all times. Sally Brady as Martha's dimwitted and flighty aunt was frustratingly accurate in her portrayal. She reminded me a great deal of Bette Davis. Ms. Goff knew exactly what Mary was up to and would not stand for any guff from her. The one sour note in this group is Mr. Cardin as Joe. He was all blustery, swaggering and quite the cock hound and I never believed a word he uttered. It was just a bit much for what the part called. I thought he was constantly posing for a magazine layout.

Ms. Evans and Ms. Lian are truly actresses of the first degree. As Martha and Karen, respectively, they kept the entire production moving and one could not help but keep their eyes on them when they were on stage. Ms. Evans is the strong willed Martha, fully capable of taking care of herself and anyone else who may need it. Although she suffers her aunt lightly, at times she can still be the understanding niece with compassion. When the rumor comes to light, she goes into self-defense mode with vim and vigor. Ms. Lian is the complete opposite of Martha, being the soft spoken, gentile one of the two and is set to marry Joe although, for the life of me, I couldn't figure out why she would entertain the thought of marrying this Joe. Just saying! The two actresses together on stage were fascinating to watch and is worth the price of admission alone. Ms. Evans even has something of an Audrey Hepburn quality about her.

The direction by Daniel Wood is strong and confident while sound by Dana Amromin, sets by Robin Macartney, costumes by Alison Owen and Zanna Paulson's lights lent themselves to the accuracy. One of the unsung heroes of the theatre is the stage manager and I would just like to mention her now. Jordan Johansen runs a tight ship and all the set changes, lighting and sound cues went off as clockwork. She kept the play moving along as smoothly as could be.

This is Artistic Director Roy Arauz's final production with Arouet, the company he founded by himself in 2011. He is moving on to take on other directorial jobs elsewhere. All best good wishes to you, Roy. Break a leg!

All in all, the adults have it and are worth a trip to Ballard to see The Children's Hour in a rare and important production.

The Children's Hour continues with performances 5/22 at 7:30 p.m., 5/23 at 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m., 5/29 & 5/30 at 7:30 p.m., 5/31 at 2 p.m. at The Ballard Underground, 2220 NW Market St. Tickets are $16-general, with student/senior and industry discounts through http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1413521 or 1-800-838-3006. For more information, visit www.arouet.us

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