Regina Giddens, the protagonist of Lillian Hellman’s 1939 play Little Foxes, is a role long sought after by top actresses searching for meaty parts. So it comes as a double treat that the Manhattan Theatre Club’s revival boasts Cynthia Nixon (Sex in City) and Laura Linney (The Big C) switching off as Regina and her mousy sister in law Birdie in its new revival which premiered Wednesday night at Broadway’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. Daniel Sullivan‘s riveting production shows the full potential of this much-neglected play to illuminate the role of women at a time when formal power eluded them.

Regina is a woman with a plan – and male-sized ambitions – in small town Alabama in 1900. Her brothers Ben (Michael McKean), Oscar (Darren Goldstein) and husband (Richard Thomas) are all wealthy, but that’s not enough for Regina. When a business deal with a Chicago business magnate offers the opportunity for fabulous new riches, Regina seizes the chance to get an outsized share of the spoils. She summons her ailing husband back from Baltimore to help consummate the deal. But when he rejects her avaricious aims, Regina’s true nature is revealed. She outsmarts the men in her family at every turn and uses all means at her disposal – up to and possibly including murder.

On the night uInterview attended, we saw Nixon give a commanding performance for the ages as Regina. Little Foxes is a very unconventional play which delightfully turns period gender roles on their heads. It would certainly be worth seeing this production twice to witness both actresses in the lead. To see two of today’s leading actresses devour the role of a lifetime is a rare opportunity indeed.

Little Foxes runs through June 18 at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (261 W. 47th St., New York, N.Y.). Get tickets here.