Through September 22
A MAN AND SOME WOMEN Court House Theatre/Shaw Festival
By Augustine Warner
One of the high points of some productions of “Cabaret” is “The Money Song,” cast members dancing around chanting “money, money, money....”
Hilda Shannon would fully agree, in Githa Sowerby's “A Man and Some Women.”
Shannon (Jenny L. Wright) is the grasping wife of prosperous London businessman Richard (Graeme Somerville) who lives in the suburbs in some splendor.
He would rather have gone off on a great adventure but stays on in the belief he must support his relatives.
Mrs. Shannon is constantly nagging her husband for money, constantly.
It's not that there isn't enough but she wants ever more and believes her place in society requires it.
Meanwhile, his sisters Rose (Kate Hennig) and Elizabeth (Sharry Flett) are also in the house and admit they are poor.
They do expect to inherit some money from their mother who is being buried on the day the play opens.
There's another person in the house, Jessica Hendred (Marla McLean), who is apparently a cousin and usually lives in London where she supports herself as an artist.
That was unusual in the social conventions of the day.
There is also her young nephew Jack (Jordan Hilliker) who lives in the Shannon household and isn't treated well.
This all takes place just before World War I when there were great national debates in Britain over women and their place in society.
Elizabeth Shannon realizes her problems and dreams of a job which would bring in her own money.
Rose is the house snitch, prowling the house looking for the dirt on the residents and believes there is a lot of it, especially in a relationship she believes exists between Richard and Jessica and that Richard is keeping money from his sisters.
It's an unpleasant place to live, especially with the truth-challenged Rose around.
When Richard finally arrives home, things blow up completely when he tells the truth about the money and leaves.
Jessica takes off and returns to her flat.
Jack scrapes together the cash for a ticket to London and shows up at Jessica's place thoroughly soaked and ill.
Hilda, Rose and Elizabeth show up, convinced they will find Richard with Jessica and he isn't.
When he does arrive, he tells everyone he's leaving for Brazil and won't ever return to the country house.
He tells Jessica she is what he wants.
Sowerby's story tells all sorts of things about British society of the day and how it treats women, whether the money grubbing of the wife or the spying of Rose or the recognition of Elizabeth that she has little value in society without training and she learned at the jobs office she doesn't have any.
Many women were considered hot house flowers, needing protection from real life.
Here, that's enhanced by staging the show in the Court House Theatre with the seats banked high on three sides of the stage with Leslie Frankish's nearly garish First Act set with its strong colors and the grayness of Jessica's rooms, broken only by her art work.
Director Alisa Palmer has a very strong cast to work with, especially Somerville, McLean and Wright.
This actually a short play, a shade under two-hours but it gets Sowerby's points across about the position of women a century ago and opens up the discussion about what has changed and how much?
The Court House specializes in thought-provoking theater and “A Man and Some Women” is that.
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