For its sixth appearance in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Bernard Shaw’s quintessential pillory of “to death do us part,” was entrusted to the very capable hands of director Tanja Jacobs and designer Shannon Lea Doyle (who could guess that the real payoff for the covey of wooden stools would have to await the arrival of the men during the bows!).
The cast was uniformly even and delightful.
Following a framed-tableau opening, Damien Atkins lifted things off, playing the philosophical, wiser-than-might-be-expected Green Grocer/Alderman, William Collins.
Chick Reid was the model of “expect life as it comes,” in her vibrant portrayal of Alice Bridgenorth.
The British military was aptly represented thanks to Marin Happer’s wonderfully lovesick take of General “Boxer” Bridgenorth (although the stumbling-into-the-furniture gag soon wore thin; much better for sight yuks was his one-size-too-large uniform).
The deliciously named, sexually ambivalent Lesbia Grantham was done up to a demonstrative T by Claire Julien.
Monice Peter was a hoot—even managing the wife-abuse moments with dignity and aplomb—gamely bringing purposeful two-timer Leo Bridgenorth under the playwright’s relationship microscope (is polygamy a sin?).
The Bishop of Chelsea had a superlative advocate in the shaved-head brain of Graeme Somerville.
None better (every season shows growth) than Ben Sanders to deliver an entirely believable snob with an extra dose of lust juice burbling in his veins/“vains”.
Cameron Grant’s radiant smile and boyish demeanour worked well as the “Will he, won’t he?” bridegroom Cecil Sykes.
The blushing bride, Edith Bridgenorth, readily dove into Shaw’s polemics with the greatest of ease (the wedding gown was a veritable treat to the eye, despite the wait).
Demonstrating his considerable timing savvy, Andrew Lawrie added just the right tone in the service of Father Soames (whipping up a Charleston for the ages after the curtain fell, added still more to his thespian creds).
The Lady in Red (Mrs. George Collins) showed just how much Marla McLean understands the importance of building a character in one direction before marvellously shifting it with unexpected gears during the infamous “out of body” sequence.
But when all was said and done (imagine wooden spoons and copper kettles “dancing up a storm”), Jacobs’s notion “as society continues to progress, the family unit evolves”, might—more correctly be re-written as “dissolves”.
How many amongst us have remained “married” from vows to the grace? JWR