THEATRE / David Benedict on theatre

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It's a long way from The Killing of Sister George (1967) to Prin (1990). The former is a West End play about lesbianism, written by a man (Andrew Davies) in which the central figure ends up lonely. The latter is a West End play about lesbianism written by a man (Frank Marcus) in which the central figure ends up lonely. Name another West End play on the subject. . . kd can cavort with Cindy on glossy covers to her heart's content but 'dyke drama' still doesn't loom large on the theatrical horizon.

Phyllis Nagy's Butterfly Kiss induced near apoplexy in one critic who described a scene of two women kissing as 'increasingly frenetic groping'. A lesbian writes about lesbianism, and she's a proselytiser; Tom Stoppard writes about white males in love with Felicity Kendal, and he's a playwright. Not that many lesbian dramatists welcome categorisation. Most are understandably eager to escape the ghetto as fast their pens will carry them.

It's different for boys. In the last week alone we have seen the reclamation of gay content from a closeted text by a gay director in Design for Living, Jonathan Harvey's new play Babies with a gay teacher at its centre, and Gloria Theatre Company's staging of Wilde's most profoundly gay work, The Picture of Dorian Gray. The girls, meanwhile, have The Children's Hour by the (straight) Lillian Hellman to look forward to. Starring Clare Higgins (right) and Harriet Walter, it's likely to be the next best thing.

'The Children's Hour' previews at the National Theatre from 16 Sept (071-928 2252)

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