Who would have guessed that a scathingly funny play about the state of health care in the United States was written in England over 110 years ago?
The timeliness of George Bernard Shaw’s writing surprises me less and less, the more I get to know his work. Shaw was a satirist who punctured the over-inflated egos of Great Britain’s upper classes—the few “haves” who were absolutely assured of their superiority over the masses because of the wealth, position, and power they lorded over the masses.
I think it says something about America (supposedly a democracy dedicated to the equality of all) when it is so clearly represented in the work of a writer who was mocking an aristocracy for their arrogance. These Doctors, who see themselves as gods, have a Dilemma—who should they choose to lend their life-saving brilliance to, and who must they condemn to a death caused by their inability to treat all who need it? Basically, who gets health care in a society, and who doesn’t? Sound familiar?
Never mind the fact that most of their treatments are, to use the British slang, “pure rot.” But in the world that Shaw creates, they are excruciatingly funny “pure rot.” All the eminent physicians (who have been knighted by the monarchy) have a single cure that they push, regardless of the disease.
Whether it is the surgeon who is sure only his knife “removing the nuci-form sac” is the path to health, or the internist who insist that one must “stimulate the phagacytes,” or the homeopath who prescribes a pound of green-gage plums for whatever ails you.
These one-trick ponies remind us of the late night info-tainment commercials which push quack cures to the unsuspecting public who are easily duped because they are desperate for a cure, or at the very least, some pain relief.
This very funny show features wonderful performances by Kate Black, Larry Bower (Austin Berger will be taking Larry’s role on October 13), Allison Corron, Tom Corron, Elaine Dec, Brian Ernsberger (I will be playing Brian’s role on October 14), Billy Hofman, Robin Pasko, Erin Smith, and Orion Toepfer. The sets have been designed and built by Rae Surface with lighting by myself.
We have two performances which feature understudy actors. We found it possible to easily work in understudies for this production because it is a staged reading. What does that mean? Primarily, it means actor’s will carry their lines with them in scenes. Or, put another way, these actors are so good they can work with one arm tied behind their back.
Shaw’s brilliance is in his dialogue, and the fact that his characters speak in fully formed thoughts that usually require a barrage of words. By freeing the actor from having to fully memorize (notice I said fully memorize), they are able to focus on the truth of the playing.
I was first introduced to “Shaw out loud” in Chicago. A theater company of Shaw devotees was able to produce his amazing words by allowing actors to abbreviate the amount of rehearsal the production required. We tried this about ten years ago with Shaw’s Don Juan in Hell. It went very well, and now the time has come around for another go at one of the world’s great playwrights.
Please come join us for this unique experience in a theater—an experience where the joy of the play is focused on the brilliant words of an extraordinary playwright.
Call the Box Office at 260-426-7421 ext. 121. The hours are Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and one hour prior to every performance.
If you are deciding last minute, call the box office to check availability, but most nights you can walk up and get a ticket the night of the show.
You can also buy tickets by going to our website, firstpresbyteriantheater.com.
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February 8 • Paramount Theatre, Anderson, IN