The West End is jumping on the worldwide craze for AMC’s hit Sixties-set drama Mad Men.
Elisabeth Moss, who plays ambitious young copywriter Peggy Olson in the series, is set to join Keira Knightley in a revival of Lillian Hellman’s controversial classic The Children’s Hour.
Moss and Knightley will start rehearsals in London next month for the play, which will open at the end of January in the West End. Ex-Royal Court artistic director Ian Rickson will direct, following his huge hit with Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem in 2009.
Elisabeth Moss has performed on stage in the 2008 Broadway revival of David Mamet’s Speed The Plow. Keira Knightley will make a return to the West End after her success in The Misanthrope at the Comedy Theatre earlier this year.
Lillian Hellman’s 1934 play The Children’s Hour, will see Moss and Knightley play two schoolmistresses who run a girl’s boarding school in the 1930s. When a disgruntled student accuses the teachers of having a lesbian affair, a series of dramatic events unfold that destroys both their lives.
The last London production of The Children’s Hour was at the National Theatre in 1994 starring Clare Higgins and Harriet Walter. Movie director William Wyler produced two films based on the play, the first in 1936 which had to adapt the story into a heterosexual love triangle, and again in 1961 starring Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine and James Garner.
Ian Rickson told the Daily Mail yesterday that the play’s relevance for today is less about lesbianism than the culture of suing and litigation, “you go to any school and put your hand on a child’s arm and you’re reported”, he said.
It is predicted that the show, which is being produced by Sonia Friedman and Scott Landis, will transfer to Broadway following its West End run.