Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Misalliance by George Bernard Shaw, Austin Playhouse, January 22 - February 21

Is it only coincidence that Austin theatre is staging a rolling centenary celebration of George Bernard Shaw? Not of his birth or death -- we'd have to wait another forty or so years for either of those, since the man lived well into his 90's --but of his plays exploring matrimony.

In late 2008 Different Stages gave us a twinkling production of Shaw's 1908 comedy Getting Married and now Austin Playhouse is offering Misalliance, first staged in 1910. Despite their talky amusements, in the canon of Shaw's 63 full-length dramas they are relatively unknown. You can browse the length of the shelves at Half-Price Books or consult the catalog at the Austin Public Library, and neither will appear.

So we have all the more reason to thank Austin stages for blowing the dust off GBS's mischievous social commentary. Getting Married looked at the dilemmas and disadvantages for the Edwardian chattering classes of the marriage contract; Misalliance pushes the boundries a bit further, as the rascally Fabian looks at the delusions of romantic love, the practicalities of extramarital liaisons, advocating a degree of female sexual liberation that must have left those proper Edwardians agog.

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