Striking publicity shots were today (17 December 2010) released for the West End revival of Lillian Hellman's The Children's Hour, showing stars Keira Knightley and Elisabeth Moss setting a dark and gothic tone for the production, which commences its run at the Comedy Theatre on 9 February (previews from 22 January 2011) for a limited season until 2 April 2011.

Knightley, along with American screen star Elisabeth Moss, aka the lascivious Peggy Olson in TV’s Mad Men - star as teachers at a girls' boarding school in the play, which is directed by Ian Rickson. Knightley returns to the Comedy Theatre where she made her Olivier-nominated stage debut last December in The Misanthrope. Moss makes her West End outing in the production, having made her Broadway debut in the 2008 production of David Mamet's Speed the Plow.

Photo credit: Michael Birt

The Children's Hour will be the first new production for former Royal Court artistic director Ian Rickson since his success with Jez Butterworth's Jerusalem, which transferred to the West End at the start of this year after premiering at the Royal Court last autumn. It picked up Best New Play awards at this past year's Evening Standard, Critics' Circle and Whatsonstage.com Awards.

The cast for the revival are: Ellen Burstyn (Amelia Tilford), Nancy Crane (Agatha), Amy Dawson (Rosalie Wells), Isabel Ellison (Catherine), Bryony Hannah (Mary Tilford), Carol Kane (Lily Mortar) and Tobias Menzies (Doctor Joseph Cardin) who are joined by Lisa Backwell (Evelyn Munn), Isabella Brazier-Jones (Helen Burton), Poppy Carter (Janet), Marama Corlett (Lois Fisher), Nancy Crane (Agatha), Amy Dawson(Rosalie Wells), Isabel Ellison (Catherine), Nathan Nolan (Grocery Boy) and Eve Ponsonby (Peggy Rogers).

The play was last produced in London by the National Theatre in 1994 in a production. Lillian Hellman’s other plays include The Dark Angel, Watch on the Rhine, The Autumn Garden and, her best-known work, The Little Foxes, which was also made into a 1941 film starring Bette Davis.