Keira Knightley and Elisabeth Moss

31 Mar
Keira Knightley and Elisabeth Moss

Keira Knightley and Elisabeth Moss

The Children’s Hour, written in 1934 by Lillian Hellman and now showing at London’s Comedy Theatre, is a flawed play. It’s difficult to believe that a child could bring about the demise of a whole school and three adults’ lives simply through a bit of gossipmongering. But once you get past that, Ian Rickson’s production is mostly made of brilliance. The set, an imposing gothic structure, turns to shit as the characters’ lives do likewise. Living legend Ellen Burstyn, who’s been onstage for half a century, doesn’t seem weathered, but seasoned and perfected through experience. Her voice, though crackly and heartbreaking (who can forget her turn in Requiem for a Dream?), carried so well it felt like she was crumbling beside me. Elisabeth Moss, usually mousey and timid as Don Draper’s secretary, Peggy Olsen in Mad Men, was unnessecarily shouty during the first act, but perhaps this would be different when not viewed from the second row. The seating wasn’t all bad, though. Not only could I see the spit from the actresses’ mouths, but the tears rolling down their faces.

Bryony Hannah who played the catalyst of the tears, made the role of an annoying taddle tale excruciatingly annoying, and the bloke who played the frustrated fiance was bearable. Keira Knightley, though possessing an accent with an almagated provenance of Boston, Bangor and Louisiana, was faultless, non-verbally. By clutching a cardigan and cowering, she manages to evoke a plethora of emotions; fear, fright, apprehension, relief. And she’s so bloody gorgeous that Elisabeth Moss wouldn’t even need to stare at her for the audience to believe there’s some lust going on there.

And kudos to Keira for putting herself out there. Many other actresses of her supposed milieu could never manage or dare to tread the boards (I mean you, Jessica Alba) and you can tell that this is where she feels most in control of her own performance.

If you haven’t caught The Children’s Hour, then don’t worry. The 1962 film, which featured Audrey Hepburn in Keira’s role, Shirley MacLaine in Elisabeth’s role and James Garner as the bloke. It’s fantastic – the only thing you’ll be missing out on Ellen Burstyn’s incredible performance.

Ahem. Now to the important part. The hair. Keira’s attracted lesbian glances since the Domino-era crop, and although her current hair (for the role)  is dowdy, it is very lesbiany. A bluntly-cut bob is that perfect “I’m so pretty/lesbiany that I genuinely don’t give a fuck” and the hairclip shows restraint, a desire to stick within conventional societal boundaries (of sexuality? maybe). Elisabeth Moss’s hair isn’t so much lesbiany as resentful-lesbiany. It’s screaming “I AM NOT A LESBIAN, LOOK, I CURL MY HAIR”

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