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VILLAGE WOOING Shaw Festival/Royal George Theatre
Jul 16, 2023, 12:38
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Shaw Festival
Through October 7
VILLAGE WOOING Shaw Festival/Royal George Theatre

George Bernard Shaw was no stranger to a tangled personal life, but his “Village Wooing” is a paean to wooing leading to marriage.
It’s getting a fascinating production in the Shaw Festival’s Royal George Theatre, with a rotating cast of six providing the two centering the play, while the others move through the 2 ˝ sets to tell the story.
The afternoon I saw a performance, Michael Man and Donna Soares were the two cast members.
Shaw wrote the play on a long cruise and begins “Wooing” on a cruise ship when travel writer “A” and rural telephone operator “Z” meet and annoy each other, as the cruise ship floats across the Red Sea.
She’s annoying and he wants to keep isolating himself so he can meet his daily word quota for the travel book series he’s producing.
Her story of how she’s paying for a round-the-world cruise is less accurate, something she admits in the third part of this hour-long show.
All during the show, the other cast members are bringing around stage props or taking them off.
That included an orange which bounced off the stage and was promptly thrown back, surprising performer Kyle Blair.
The second segment takes place in the rural store where “Z” works and handles phone calls and “A” comes in, probably aware she will be there.
It’s more of the social back-and-forth verbal dueling.
Periodically, it’s interrupted a ringing phone and “Z” has to switch to upper crust English to deal with the customers and pass calls along, including one for Scotland Yard.
It’s all the rituals of mating, with the end result clear in the third act, finding out “A” has bought the store and Post Office, which was the phone system in those days.
Beyata Hackborn has put the action before a tall wall of a set, changed in keeping with the location although you do wonder if the fruits and veggies are real and eaten by cast and crew as the season continues.
It’s really effective.
For director Selma Dimitrijevic it’s an opportunity to keep everything moving, as the constantly shifting cast members move things on and off and around the stage while not interfering with the story of “Village Wooing.”
Both Man and Soares were very good that day and the show is worth seeing, perhaps as part of a full day in Niagara-on-the-Lake.


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