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TOO TRUE TO BE GOOD Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre/Shaw Festival
Sep 2, 2022, 14:09
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Shea.s Performing Arts Center

Shaw Festival
Through October 8
<b<too true to be good Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre/ Shaw Festival

George Bernard Shaw was always a writer who believed if two words might pen his thoughts, three words would be better.
He was also something of a dedicated preacher and crank, who appears to have seen himself vindicated by his opposition to World War I and seeing the rise of European Fascism around him when “Too True To Be Good” first went on the boards in the Boston of 1932.
The Shaw Festival has been here before, with the current production its fifth crack at the play.
You basically have to sit back and listen to the show and see what meandering road the play will take, from a sick bed in London to a far corner of the British Empire, where there are soldiers to repress the rebellious natives and now house a group of what are upper crust criminals.
This at a time when Britain was already exerting more and more force to hold on to its empire in Imperial India.
The story also gives Shaw a chance to expound on his unusual views on medicine and microbes.
The early stages revolve around a gentleman burglar, a character so familiar British crime fiction.
A.J. Raffles?
It’s the ennui of the rich in Shaw’s play.
There is a patient (Donna Soares), the Microbe (Travis Seetoo), the doctor (Martin Happer), the patient’s mother (Jenny L. Wright), the Nurse (Marla McLean) and the Honorable Aubrey Bagot or the Burglar (Graeme Somerville).
The Burglar is a crook, as is the Nurse, and the Patient decides they should steal her valuable pearl necklace and use it to move into the wider world with cash.
They wind up on a beach in a mountainous part of the Empire, with the Nurse posing as the Countess, which excites the locals.
All of this uses some wonderful sound design from John Gzowski, from the off-stage rebelling Natives to the autos we don’t see and all essential to the story.
This Imperial outpost is commanded by Colonel Tallboys, VC, DSO, (Neil Barclay) clearly a genuine soldier.
The person not only running the military base and the country is actually Private Napoleon Alexander Trotsky Meek, (Jonathan Tan), a veteran based on Lawrence of Arabia.
As is so often true in the military, an officer defers to the enlisted guy who can get things done and leave him alone.
The Colonel spends his time with his watercolors.
Shaw ties this all together when The Elder (Patrick Galligan), father of both the Burglar and the Patient, arrives to straighten things out.
The atheist prances around the beach, jumping on and off a boulder and involves himself in long philosophical discussions of some of Shaw’s favorite views and long religious discussions with the desperately religious Meek.
They go on and on, with the Colonel hitting the Mother over the head with his umbrella, giving her amnesia and a new chance to establish a relationship with the Patient, her daughter.
The wordy Act III lets Shaw say this is a better world because it’s run on his ideas.
The Shaw clearly put resources into this show, particularly some of its real pros, Somerville, Galligan, McLean, Barclay and Happer, some fine set design from Sue LePage, Gzowski’s audio work and Sanjay Talwar’sintricate directing of this Shavian soundoff.
“Too True To Be Good” is fun but lengthy.


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