George Bernard Shaw

December 29, 2009

Not one of Shaw’s profoundest works, but no matter.  It is a delight to watch the Pearl Repertory Company act.

Top of my list has always been Sean McNall, a resident of the company, but lately he has a companion in future stardom, Lee Stark.  These two are bound for Broadway, perhaps Hollywood as well.  Both so immerse themselves in their roles that one feasts in wonder on their performances.  Ms. Stark’s every gesture, every facial expression and delivered line is studied and involved.  Every second she is on stage she is acting, yet so naturally does it come that it appears not to be acting at all.

They are joined in this sometimes hilarious play by an excellent cast.  Dan Daily is great as the practical John Tarleton and Steven Boyer must be a cringing, cowardly person in real life.  No one can make believe so convincingly. 

There are no bad performances so I will refrain from ticking off each name.  Jeff Steitzer’s direction excels as well.

So what is the point of this play?  That we are all flawed beneath our formal, cultivated exteriors?  Yeah, well we know that.  That women are lusty and capable of pursuing a man?  Yeah, we have learned that, too.  That men gravitate toward strong, brave women tho’ they be less comely?  Of course!  I guess I didn’t learn anything from the play.

But I did get some good laughs and got to see some fine performances which renews me in the belief that the Pearl Theatre Company is a treasure we are fortunate to have.  It’s new digs at the NY City Center in the theatre district are much more accessible and I look forward to all their productions and, of course, to seeing Sean McNall and Lee Stark perform.  

An unpleasant truth which will no doubt always prevail, and which Shaw acknowledges in Tarleton’s voice:  You’ll get no justice here:  we don’t keep it.  Human nature is what we stock.

And when Lord Summerhays refers to Lee Stark’s Hypatia as “glorious young beast that you are,” I can only nod in stunned agreement, so captivating is she.