In repertory with its riveting revival of Lillian Hellman’s classic drama The Children’s Hour (reviewed, along with this play, this week in Section 1), TimeLine Theatre presents William Luce’s one-woman portrait of the playwright. Janet Ulrich Brooks gives a charismatic, perfectly modulated tour de force performance as the middle-aged Hellman, waiting in a hospital for news about longtime lover Dashiell Hammett, who’s dying of cancer. Hellman’s reminiscences range from showbiz name-dropping to moving anecdotes about her New Orleans childhood, her turbulent relationship with Hammett (including their shared battle with alcoholism), and her 1952 appearance before Senator Joe McCarthy’s red-baiting House Un-American Activities Committee. With her proud bearing, sharply etched features, and piercing intelligence, Brooks completely inhabits Hellman in the prime of life. She’s tough and vulnerable, sardonic and rueful–an unfinished woman, as Hellman titled her memoir, and an unforgettable one. a Through 12/11: Sun-Mon 7 PM, TimeLine Theatre Company, Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ, Baird Hall Theatre, 615 W. Wellington (courtyard entrance), 773-281-8463, $10.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Lara Goetsch.