Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw’s “Getting Married,” first presented 100 years ago in 1908 at the Haymarket Theatre in London, must have …
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Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw’s “Getting Married,” first
presented 100 years ago in 1908 at the Haymarket Theatre in London,
must have horrified a great number of conservative audiences.
Cast members represent a number of views on what marriage should
mean for participants and when the play was originally published,
it was prefaced by a 91-page treatise by Shaw about various facets
of marriage — and divorce.
Considered by many to be the most significant British playwright
after Shakespeare, Shaw, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in
1925, was — and is equally well known for his biting social and
political commentary— and this play is no exception.
When it first played in London, critics objected to his moral
stance and also complained that there was no action and that’s
still true. But Shaw’s words are such fun to hear that we stay with
it while the Bishop’s daughter Edith (Julie Michalak) rebels
against her wedding to young Cecil (Heston Mosher), scheduled later
that day — and everyone around her offers an opinion on marriage in
Lights go up as Alice, the bride’s mother and bishop’s wife
(Jenny Mac Donald), talks about final wedding arrangements with the
green grocer Collins (Ed Baerlein, who is also director) . His wry
and wise commentary ties the piece together throughout in a perfect
role for Baerlein, who delivers Shaw’s humor — and in Act III,
delivers his astonishing sister-in-law Zenobia (Lisa Mumpton).
Collins’ wife, whom he describes as “a regular old hen,” always
wanted her children around her, which is why they’ve all run away
from her, he says. But when he needs to consult with a woman, it’s
his brother George’s wife he talks to.
Eric Victor, as the Bishop’s brother Boxer, is a retired general
who is oh-so-proper as he tries to convince Alice’s sister Lesbia
(Suzanna Wellens) to marry him. This is an ongoing 10-year, one-way
courtship and she again refuses, basically saying she doesn’t wish
to be bothered with having a man underfoot around the house. She
would rather enjoy having children, she says — but not at the price
of marrying. She is obviously wealthy and independent.
The bishop’s other brother, recently-divorced Reginald and his
ex, the flippant Leo (Vanessa Bowie), appear together for the
family wedding. She sees nothing wrong with a woman having two
husbands — she has an affair going with Hotchkiss (Scott A.
Bellot), who “has a face like a mushroom,” according to stuffy
Reginald (Randy Diamon). “I should like Reggie for everyday and
Hotchkiss to go out with in the evening!”
The bishop Alfred (Fred Lewis), is surprisingly tolerant and
talks of letters he receives from a mystery woman, while his
chaplain Soames (David Fennerty) represents the straight and narrow
churchman, full of pious pronouncements as he fussily dusts and
straightens the room.
Staging involves a simple set, the bishop’s home, with a large
table at the front. There are three acts, but the device of picking
up exactly where the previous act stopped gives the effect of one
unbroken work. Eventually the characters agree to write up a
statement on marriage and Zenobia, who seems to collect men,
arrives dressed in flaming red, to put in her two cents’ worth.
Costumes by Sally Diamond are early 1900s in styling and the set
looks like a photo of a room from that period. The day passes with
no need for scene changes as characters speak in usually
-entertaining words. An evening with Shaw leaves one smiling and
wishing to recall pithy quotes.
Germinal Stage Denver is in its 37th season of delivering
stimulating theater, including 16 Shaw productions.
If you go:
“Getting Married” by George Bernard Shaw runs through Dec. 12 at
Germinal Stage Denver at 2450 W. 44th Ave., Denver. Performances: 8
p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 7 p.m. Sundays and 2 p.m. Nov. 6.
Tickets: $21-75, $19.75, $17.75. 303-455-7108
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