Man and Superman
Man and Superman
George Bernard Shaw
Directed by Lani Harris
Starring John Michael McDonald and Maddie Tarbox
Theatre UCF, Orlando FL</strong>
So where were the Suffragettes? Preshow as we hung out in the lobby actors solicited our opinions of giving women the vote, but inside there’s was nary a peep about rights or a woman’s place in society. Instead, we followed a rather involved romantic comedy interspersed with rather long and rambling speeches about Shaw’s politics. Ann Whitefield (Tarbox) just lost her daddy, and since she’s underage a guardian must be appointed to keep her pure. The task is split; one guardian is the conservative windbag Roebuck Ramsden (Eric Eichenlaub) and the other is radical revolutionary Jack Tanner (McDonald). There’s a romantic triangle as well; Tanner and his buddy Octavius Robinson (Tony Pracek) are both keen on Ann although Tanner is in denial. The subplot concerns Violet Robinson (Skye Coyne) who is shamefully pregnant yet secretly married to tasteless Irish American Hector Malone (Joseph Herr) and disapproved of by his rich and tactless father (Tyler Houck.)
The social commentary is fun when it’s not a monologue; McDonald and Pracek make a great buddy comedy team while McDonald and Eichenlaub tend more towards an older sitcom couple. Ms. Tarbox seems somehow more mature than her guardians; that makes the whole “responsible for” and “in love with “ issue Jack faces seem more quaint than creepy. The set is elegant and flexible; the four comfy leather chairs of Act One morph into an auto-mobile in Act Two. That’s where we get more comic relief from the skeptical mechanic Henry Striker (Alexander Recore) and the bombastic elder Malone. The younger Malone is a bit sappy, but he and Violet seem another good match. That just leaves imperious Miss Ramsden (Roxanne LeBlanc) as Roebuck’s presumed sister; she the puritanical voice of “all propriety and no fun” writ large as Shaw’s private buffoon.
Shaw was antiwar, anti-aristocracy and anti “tradition.” His plays are a soap box but while the things he opposed are still with us and still opposed his exact language is often opaque and not all his gags register with a modern audience. View it as a jumping off point for those of you who may need to write an essay on his politics. For the rest of us we find a surprisingly traditional take on love and romance complete with a happy ending. If this was a real revolution on stage the wealthy would not be allowed to reproduce freely. Consistency – the bugaboo of small minds.
For more information on Theatre UCF visit http://www.theatre.ucf.edu