Also see Susan's review of Sabrina Fair
Director John Going's production of George Bernard Shaw's Misalliance, now at the Olney Theatre Center in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, is beautifully appointed but remains somehow earthbound when it should soar.
Shaw's 1909 play is as philosophical as any of his works, but Misalliance focuses primarily on the confusing bonds between parents and children, and the almost as perplexing romantic connections between men and womenall in the tranquil setting of the English country house of John Tarleton (Joe Vincent), who made his fortune manufacturing underwear.
Throughout the first act, Tarleton's frighteningly self-assured daughter Hypatia (Patricia Hurley), known to the family as Patsy, toys with Bentley Summerhays (Matthew McGloin), an overgrown babyliterally; he throws tantrums when he doesn't get his waywhom she may marry because, well, why not? Mrs. Tarleton (Anne Stone) provides down-to-earth advice, while Patsy's stodgy brother John Jr. (Joel Reuben Ganz) does his best to run the business while his father spends his time endowing and dedicating free libraries. Bentley's father, Lord Summerhays (Dudley Knight), recently returned from a remote outpost of the British Empire, also stops by to share his words of wisdom.
"Patsy wants adventure to drop out of the sky," her father observes, and, since this is Shaw, that's exactly what happens: a wandering biplane crashes into the roof of the Tarletons' conservatory, carrying pilot Joseph Percival (Alex Podulke) and Polish daredevil Lina Szczepanowska (Andrea Cirie). The complications multiply from there, enhanced by the last-minute arrival of an awkward intruder (Drew Kopas) with a gun and a grudge against the family patriarch.
Cirie, a solidly built woman with thick chestnut hair, is the one live wire in this company; her arrival jolts the production into sudden life. The rest of the performances are all capable without being especially interesting or engaging.
James Wolk has designed a gorgeous, expansive set that fills the entire Olney stage, from the domed glass roof to a two-level interior filled with wicker furniture, and has devised a clever and amusing effect to bring the airplane onstage. Dennis Parichy's lighting design provides the clear, cloudless effect of an early summer afternoon, while Liz Covey has designed costumes in a comfortable warm-weather palette of off-white for the men and pale pink for Patsy.
Olney Theatre Center