Performing Arts
© Mike Keenan

Shaw's Misalliance at the Royal George

Jeff Meadows as Johnny Tarleton, Catherine McGregor as Mrs. Tarleton and Krista Colosimo as Hypatia Tarleton in Misalliance. Photo by David Cooper

"Oh home! Parents! Family! Duty! How I loathe them! How I'd like to see them all blown to bits!"

A bored heiress to an underwear fortune is trapped in an miserable engagement, but a airplane suddenly crashes into the conservatory. A handsome pilot, Joey Percival (Wade Bogert-O'Brien) and wing-walker, Lina Szczepanowska (Tara Rosling) a female daredevil emerge, and all kinds of novel ideas immediately shake up an otherwise tranquil country weekend. Who will wind up with whom? Which alliance is a hit - or a miss?

Some teams are stronger than others; one merely reads the divorce stats for any given country. Then we have those delicate political unions (some refer to as unholy). For example, the provincial NDP and the minority Liberals: look at all the fun caused concerning the budget.

Eda Holmes   Krista Colosimo as Hypatia Tarleton in Misalliance. Photo by David Cooper   Misalliance   Tara Rosling

John Tarleton (Thom Marriott) is a nouveau riche producer of first-rate underwear, trying to enjoy a country weekend with his spouse, son and daughter. Son, Johnny (Jeff Meadows) is visited by Bentley Summerhays (Ben Sanders), an aristocratic suitor to his daughter, Hypatia (Krista Colosimo) followed by Lord Summerhays (Peter Krantz), his father, who also once proposed to her!

Despite this stimulation, she is bored. Strangled by convention, uninterested in the options given to women who marry (and women who don't), she longs for something more - adventure or "To be an active verb." She implores, "I want to be; I want to do; and I am game to suffer if it costs that. But stuck here doing nothing but being good and nice and ladylike I simply won't."

This is not just an exercise in grammar between copula, transitive and intransitive verbs! She is even willing to marry the nerdy Bentley to ensure something will happen.

The dashing aviator crashes (literally), and Shaw complicates the issue of who will wind up with whom in this amusing take of marriage and the New Woman struggling to surface from the constraints of Victorian parenthood and morality.

With multiple marriage proposals (eight in one afternoon), it poses the famous Shavian speculation: "If marriages were made by putting all the men's names into one sack and the women's names into another, and having them taken out by a blind-folded child like lottery numbers, there would be just as high a percentage of happy marriages as we have now."

Director Eda Holmes updates the original setting to that of the swinging sixties and explains: "The play was written at the height of the Edwardian Era (1910) which was epitomized by a rebellion against Victorian propriety in favor of more liberal views on everything including voting rights and social mobility. So what would parallel that in contemporary times? I went home and watched an episode of "Mad Men" and there it was on TV right in front of me - the early 60s! Filled with optimism, hypocrisy and fabulous clothes... Our goal [with this concept] is to reveal the clarity of Shaw's brilliant examination of the microcosm of the family as a means of understanding the huge shifts that are happening around us right now. How the youth's rejection of their parents is part of the evolution of society and there is very little we can do to stop it - and despite our fears we must be optimists and believe that this rejection is part of man's natural drive toward a more civilized society."

In the end, romance triumphs, and despite Shaw's traditional prodigious number of words, Holmes' strong cast carries the day. The production runs through October 27.

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