Through October 5
HIS GIRL FRIDAY Shaw Festival/Festival Theatre
Let's see: the reporters aren't too troubled by facts...they believe anything official from the public officials they ridicule...and, they have antiquated social views.
No, they don't work for a prominent cable TV channel.
They are reporters in 1939 Chicago, as originally channeled through Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur.
Playwright John Guare created this mish-mash “His Girl Friday,” using Hecht and MacArthur's original “The Front Page,” based on Chicago reporters in the Twenties, movie re-makes and Howard Hawks' brilliant decision to make Hildy Johnson a woman and change the dynamics from the feuding Walter Burns and Hildy to Hildy and Walter, ex-wife and husband as well as ace reporter and loon editor.
As played by Benedict Campbell, Burns reminds me of an insane editor I once worked for (name and paper won't be mentioned).
Chicago has always been a great news town, with its assortment of crooked politicians, psycho mobsters and obsessive reporters.
Even in the age of TV, the traditions continue.
After all, this was a town where a newspaper set up a bar to entrap crooked municipal employees as they sought payoffs and found many of them.
They really did steal pictures of dead people from their families.
Here, the story is based on a real murder and planned execution.
As reporters stir around in the press room of the Criminal Courts Building, they can hear carpenters putting together the gallows for Earl Holub (Andrew Bunker), convicted and sentenced to death for killing a Nazi cop.
Guare has moved the play from the Twenties to August 31, 1939 so that World War II is starting as the story spins out.
The reporters helped the publicity of the cops and the mayor and the prosecutor who turned Holub from a refugee Jew into a mad-dog killer.
They are fully aware the Mayor (Thom Marriott) is a corrupt, power-hungry boob, while his brother-in-law Sheriff (Peter Krantz) has the IQ of a billy club.
The reporters lament what Hildy (Nicole Underhay) might have done with this story but she has quit because she's divorcing Burns and marrying rich Albany insurance guy Bruce Baldwin (Kevin Bundy) and moving east.
The story keeps getting better as Holub escapes in a situation proving what an idiot the sheriff is and a massive manhunt ensues, just as Hildy comes in with Bruce to meet the boys.
She finds out the circumstances of the escape and then has Holub stashed away.
Walter arrives and tries to seduce his best reporter into doing the story and maybe seduce his ex-wife back into his life.
Fiance Bruce and his mother (Wendy Thatcher) can't figure out what's going on, with the cops arresting Bruce and then Mother.
There is incredible chemistry between Campbell and Underhay as this insane story unfolds and a cadre of Chicago characters emerges on stage, Diamond Louie (Thom Allison), Mollie Malloy (Krista Colosimo), Woodenshoes (Peter Millard) and Bensinger (Ric Reid).
Jim Mezon has a well-deserved reputation for his farces and here he always skates up right against the line without ever tipping over it.
He also makes good use of stage veteran Lorne Kennedy as the representative of the governor, taking a bribe from the mayor and the sheriff.
Peter Hartwell's wonderful set reminded me of the old press room in Buffalo Police Headquarters.
“His Girl Friday” is a wonderful show with a great story, astutely directed with wonderful performances from Campbell and Underhay, with great small roles for Marriott, Krantz, Millard and Thatcher.
Put “His Girl Friday” on your summer “to-do” list.
© Copyright 2013 - Speakupwny.com
hosted by Online Media, Inc
Buffalo Web Design and Web Hosting
Top of Page