Review by Terry Gaisin
The SHAW festival has evolved into more than just a showcase of George Bernard Shaw, Today’s audiences still have opportunities to observe the creativity of the renowned eponymous critic/playwright, knowing the result will be immaculately directed; powerfully cast and faultlessly executed. Shaw’s 1897 comedic scrutiny of period mores with its appreciation of evolving female emancipation contains the expected Shaw pithy lines including the waiter’s off-quoted “YOU NEVER CAN TELL”. Great name for a play about being unable to tell about stuff. Photo – David Cooper
Veteran director Jim Mezon commented that his intention was to define the play as about acceptance. By definition, acceptance means to receive with approval or favorably, a point or theory that requires a modification of the status quo. This particular evaluation deals with a recently returned family of a mother and her three children from an 18-year self- exile from southern England. The offspring have no notion of who was (or is) their male progenitor. Through misadventure, they meet the man; invite him to lunch and he’s just in time to screw up or augment a budding relationship between daughter no. 1 and her suitor, an impoverished dentist. The narrator and catalyst is the waiter ‘Walter/William’ who ‘sirs’ as often as an American Marine recruit. Gets annoying, but given the thespian talent of Peter Millard, one learns to aurally edit it out. His requisite obsequiousness barely conceals his keen observations.
The matriarch of the Clandon clan is Tara Rosling, she of the amazingly perfect cheekbones and sculpted face. Her moments of social intercourse with her daughter’s suitor Valentine is all the more effective given her almost understated deliveries. Poor Gray Powell not only has to deal with her; he must verbally spar & seduce Julia Course whose ‘Gloria’ is a forceful and contentiously self-determined young lady with no intention of following the usual mapped-out policies of single marriageable women. He does his best, but both actresses dominate their verbal dialogues.
The other offspring are portrayed by elongated Stephen Jackman-Torkoff whose profile strongly resembles an early Jerry Lewis. So does his role interpretation; he’s preciously precocious and veers disturbingly close to flouncing. Diminutive Jennifer Dzialoszynski is Dolly and she does flounce. (O.A.R. readers know of this paper’s anathema towards Flounce).
The recently-reunited father is Patrick McManus and as usual, steals every scene. Whether angry, frustrated or attempting to ingratiate; the man’s theatrical range seems infinite. The family retainer is stalwartly played by Peter Krantz and he’s likeable enough to offset the usually ingrained antipathy one has for the profession.
The sets, especially the intro to the seaside hotel are decorative and express the ambiance that is requisite. It’s here that the shtick about a large inflated fish gleans a “Holy Mackerel” comment that followed by another riposte about going ‘back to school’. Very punny!
“YOU NEVER CAN TELL” is at the St. George Theatre until October 25th.
**Each yearly visit to SHAW offers us an opportunity to experience Niagara-on-the-Lake’s varied eateries. This time we found the STAGECOACH RESTAURANT at 45 Queen Street. 2nd generation operators (the Pullmans) go against the normal tide of seasonal operations by being over qualitied; and underpriced!!! Their homemade Cole Slaw is to die for and the kitchen is spotless. Only complaint …Too generous with the tasty fries.
As Shaw himself stated: -“There is no love sincerer than the love of food”