Arms and the Man in Perth: A Delight from beginning to end!

Reviewed by Iris Winston

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Photo: Jean-Denis  Labelle

Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw, directed by Laurel Smith. A Classic Theatre Festival Production

A comedy of manners, bordering on farce, George Bernard Shaw’s Arms and the Man pits romance versus realism, idealism versus pragmatism and flamboyant foolishness versus clockwork precision.

One of Shaw’s earliest and funniest scripts, Arms and the Man is set in a wealthy Bulgarian household during the 1885 Serbian invasion and subsequent peace between Bulgaria and Serbia.

The comedy revolves around two overlapping love triangles: the first involving Raina, the Bulgarian heiress engaged to the empty-headed exhibitionist officer Sergius Saranoff, and more attracted to the efficient Swiss mercenary, Captain Bluntshli, whom she helps to escape capture; and the second amongst household servants Louka, a maid with ideas above her station, manservant Nicola, content with his role in life, and Sergius.

While Shaw is more focused on his talent to amuse than to moralize in Arms and the Man, the underlying theme of the futility of war, accompanied by a cheer for professionalism and a couple of swipes at class distinctions, is clear.

As directed by Laurel Smith, the Classic Theatre Festival’s production of Arms and the Man is a delight from beginning to end. Despite several laugh-out-loud moments, many of them the result of the brilliant physical comedic movements from Lindsay Robinson as Sergius, Smith holds the cast back from straying into full-blown farce.

Bluster from Major Petkoff (Alastair Love) is believable. Quiet efficiency and control are clearly demonstrated by Bluntschli (a particularly well rounded performance from Scott Clarkson).

Lana Sugarman as Raina is effective in moving on from romanticizing war to learning about love between equals. Meanwhile, Rachel Fischer is suitably pert as Louka and Alan Lee as Nicola delivers the required contrast as a man with the “soul of a servant”.

The set by Lois Richardson and costumes by Renate Seller, together with lighting by Wesley Mckenzie and sound by Matthew Behrens, complete the sense of balance in this fine production.

The Classic Theatre Festival’s production of Arms and the Man continues to August 14.

Set: Lois Richardson

Costumes: Renate Seller

Lighting: Wesley McKenzie

Sound: Matthew Behrens

Cast:

Raina Petkoff………………………..Lana Sugarman

Catherine Petkoff……………………Catherine Bruce

Louka………………………………..Rachel Fischer

Captain Bluntschli…………………..Scott Clarkson

Nicola……………………………….Alan Lee

Major Petkoff……………………….Alastair Love

Sergius Saran………………………..Lindsay Robinson

 

Note our comments on the play performed by Odyssey  theatre in Strathcona park two years ago. (AR)

http://capitalcriticscircle.com/arms-and-the-man-odysseys-exciting-and-disconcerting-production-is-a-mixture-of-performance-styles-that-gives-us-much-to-ponder/#more-3666


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