Through October 27
MISALLIANCE Shaw Festival/Royal George Theatre
George Bernard Shaw's “Misalliance” could have been a comedy about a marriage of a young nobleman and the daughter of a rich guy.
It isn't, although it's partly that.
It's about a rich guy with all sorts of strange beliefs, mostly based on whatever he seems to be reading at the moment, paired with a less than monogamous view of marriage.
He lives with his difficult family in a palatial spread in Surrey, part of London's “stockbroker belt.”
John Tarleton (Thom Marriott) is rich from the underwear business.
His son Johnny (Jeff Meadows) is starting to take over, with the slight quibble that he might be a trifle dumb.
His sister Hypatia (Krista Colosimo) is welcoming her fiancé to the place for this May weekend.
He's Bentley Summerhays (Ben Sanders), lightweight son of a colonial governor who's also visiting. Lord Summerhays (Peter Krantz) has a much better sense of what is going on in the world from his years managing a small piece of the Empire and a desire to marry Hypatia.
This is classic Shaw, words, words and more words.
While the play is set in 1911, director Eda Holmes has moved it to 1962, perhaps only because that was the Shaw Festival's first season.
There seems no other reason.
One problem is that the behavior of Bentley and Hypatia would be expected to be one way in 1911 and a very different way in 1962.
The pivot of the play is when a plane crashes on the estate roof, carrying pilot Joey Percival (Wade Bogert-O'Brien) and wing-walker Lina Szczepanowska (Tara Rosling), in gear from a century ago.
Bentley falls in love with Lina and Hypatia falls in love with Joey.
In 1911, that would only be allowed once the marriage took place and no one would look.
In 1962, oh yeah, they break the engagement and marry someone else.
Politically, Shaw might have approved but dramatically his play requires the 1911 attitudes.
This all blows into the open when Gunner (Craig Pike) shows up with a gun and hides in a steam machine and listens to everything going on and tells all.
He also may be Tarleton's son from his philandering.
Words, words and more words.
In the end, romance triumphs.
“Misalliance” is one of those Shaw shows which the festival keeps doing because it's so typical of the playwright's attitude to the social attitudes of his day and his efforts in waterfalls of words to change them.
It's better than some Shaw because it doesn't have the bitter flow of words of other Shaw master works, but it's wordy.
“Misalliance” is also entertaining, with director Eda Holmes working with a strong cast and a nice if over-stuffed set from Judith Bowden.
John Gzowski also kicked in some nice sound for the plane crash and its effects on the Tarleton mansion.
Holmes has some nice staff to work with, Meadows, Colosimo, Krantz, Marriott and Rosling.
It's all pleasant and entertaining and the cast shows the deep bench in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
A pleasant way to spend a summer afternoon or evening.
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