We accompanied the Lady de Gloves to American Players Theatre (APT) to see the closing performance of Engaging Shaw. The play, by John Morogiello, is about George Bernard Shaw’s relationship with Charlotte Payne-Townshend. We approached it with some trepidation because we feared it would give us some of Shaw’s best lines without being much of a play. We knew the cast of Colleen Madden as Charlotte, James Ridge as Bernard, Tracy Michelle Arnold as Beatrice Webb, and APT relative newcomer Gavin Lawrence as Sidney Webb would make it interesting.
The opening music told us it was going to be a fun time. The play turned out to be an excellent rom-com with a conservative heart.
Sidebar: APT is becoming our favorite Wisconsin conservative institution. True most of their conservatism is about the theatre. They are, however, fearless with the conviction to freedom of expression and that means they are different from almost every other similar organization. Experiencing Shaw is a great example. End Sidebar.
Bernard, Beatrice, and Sidney are (in the play and real life) socialists who are members of the Fabian Society. Their foolishness is often pointed out. For example, Bernard and Charlotte are discussing income (in)equality and it goes roughly like this: Bernard says incomes should be equal. Charlotte inquires as to how much income. Bernard says just enough to get by. Charlotte asks who will decide. It take Bernard awhile but he admits that he plans on deciding. It is wonderful romp both as a rom-com and skewering socialists. The latter is something we can never do enough.