Patrick Hamilton’s Description of my character in Rope – “Leila, like Raglan, is young, good-looking, and has no ideas. She also has the same tendency to conceal that deficiency with a show of sophistication. In this she is perhaps more than successful than Raglan. She has a fairly good stock of many-syllabled and
rather outré words which she brings out with rather comic emphasis, rolling her eyes the while, as though she doesn’t really mean what she is saying. In this way she never actually commits herself to any emotion or feeling, and might even be thought deep. But she is not.”
While Hamilton’s description of Miss Leila Arden may be accurate to a point, I think he is rather unfair with her. At first glance, she is vapid, unintelligent, and a bit useless. But she tries so hard. She really does wish to seem intelligent in the company of these educated men. In my mind she means every word she says, though she may not know what they mean. Luckily she finds a companion in likeminded Kenneth Raglan.
Thankfully, Leila is wonderfully good at attending parties, which is the very reason she was invited to this one in particular. She was bred for this lifestyle, being from a wealthy British family in that time period. She would not have had the opportunity to have formal classical schooling like the boys, but she works with what she has been given. She is talkative, inclusive, flirtatious, and a great distraction for what may be hiding in the chest.
I find Leila an absolute delight to play. Hamilton certainly is challenging me to give her depth, and I look forward to finding new things with her and my cast mates every day. She is just so unwittingly dim and delightfully fun!