ENGAGING SHAW by Carol Kaufman Segal
I have seen many plays by George Bernard Shaw, but until I saw Engaging Shaw, a comedy written by John Morogiello, based on true events, I knew nothing of his personal life. Shaw was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1856. He moved to London in 1876, where he struggled to become a writer, eventually becoming the leading dramatist of his generation. Engaging Shaw is making its Los Angeles Premiere at Theatre 40.
The play takes place at the country home of Beatrice Webb (Susan Priver) and her husband Sidney (Warren Davis) in England, 1897 (beautiful set by Jeff G. Rack). Their house guest is George Bernard Shaw (Grinnell Morris), playwright, critic, and political activist, who insists on being called Bernie. During a conversation between the Webbs and Bernie, Beatrice tells him about the impending arrival of another house guest that he soon will be meeting.
When Charlotte Payne-Townsend (Jennifer Lynn Davis), a wealthy Irish heiress arrives, it appears that he had already “accidentally” met the lady. It also appears that the Webbs had a motive in their plan of inviting them as house guests at the same time.
When left alone in conversation, Bernie and Charlotte discover they each have their own individual and different views. However, Shaw is very pleased and happy to meet another person from Ireland, and the one thing they both agree strongly about is the fact that neither of them wishes to ever get married. (They are both in their 40’s.) Shaw also finds Charlotte interesting and quite intelligent. She realizes that he is a womanizer, but she still finds him interesting and they discover that they find themselves enjoying spending their time together.
Eventually conversations are not enough for Charlotte, and she changes her mind about not ever wanting to get married. But not Bernie, even though he does not want to lose Charlotte, he remains dead set against marriage. She finally takes a step towards her goal by working as a secretary to Shaw. How far will she have to go to win her man?
Theatre 40, once again, has provided audiences with a charming and well-done production. Morogiello has written a delightful play, and the four actors, under the direction of Melanie MacQueen, are superb.
Engaging Shaw plays Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 2 PM through April 15, at Theatre 40, located in the Reuben Cordova Theatre on the campus of Beverly Hills High School, 241 S. Moreno Drive,, Beverly Hills. Tickets are available online at www.theatre40.org, or call for reservations at (310) 364-0535.