Geneva

By Bernard ShawNEW_Geneva_web

Directed by Robert Scogin

Produced by ShawChicago

At the Ruth Page Theater, Chicago

Wonderfully acted dated Shaw historical satire wears out its welcome

ShawChicago Theatre Company’s mission is to present classic plays of George Bernard Shaw and his contemporaries as concert readings. Make no mistake, these “readings,” by A-list actors (mostly Equity) are fully acted despite the players standing by a podium with a script. Their approach allows the essence of Shaw and others to be presented as verbal treats with enough emotions, wit, and humor, without the frills of sets and costumes. The acting skill makes the words sizzle!

Their latest work, Geneva, by Bernard Shaw, is a historical satire, first mounted in Warsaw in 1938 as war looms over Europe. Shaw exudes his razor-sharp wit by attacking the ineptitude of the League of Nations, the corruption within governments, and the rise of dictators. Democracy’s meaning is questioned here as the socialist-communist Russia is praised. Peace and treason are also examined.

This play demonstrates how complex Shaw can be as he tackles major political events in pre-war Europe. The work is verbose, dense, and complex as it tackles more than most audiences can handle despite wonderful performances by the game cast. Geneva plays to Shaw enthusiasts and theatre scholars. Lovers of terrific acting will be impressed with the ShawChicago production.

Several performances were notable: Jhenai Mootz as Begonia Brown; Jack Hickey as the Russian; and Kate Young as The Widow.  Unfortunately, the play runs too long and challenges audiences but since ShawChicago presents Shaw’s classics, cutting them for modern audiences is not an option. So, for a trip to see great works of the 2oth century come to life, ShawChicago delivers with skilled stage craft.

Recommended

Tom Williams

At Ruth Page Center for the Arts,1016 N. Dearborn, Chicago, IL, call 312-587-7390, www.shawchicago.org, tickets $30, $25 seniors, $15 students, Saturdays & Sundays at 2 pm, Mondays at 7 pm, running time is 2 hours, 35 minutes with intermission, through Sept. 28, 2015