Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Shaw Festival

I spent last weekend at the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake in Canada. I attended the Stratford Festival many years ago, but this was my first trip to the perhaps lesseer-known Shaw Festival. Just as the Stratford Festival is not exclusively Shakespeare, the Shaw Festival is not exclusively George Bernard Shaw.

I am no special fan of Shaw's plays, but when a friend suggested this trip, I decided to give it a try. I'm glad I did. I found seeing six plays in five days a challenge (while many in our group added extras from the festival's total of ten offerings). I guess I'm not a true theater afficianado; I seem to need more solitary relaxing and reading time than some of my fellow travelers.

Anyway, the hotel accommodations at the small Shaw Club Hotel were fine, the food was good, and the walks to the three neaby theaters fun, at least until the rain came.

Strangely enough, the play I enjoyed most was the new The Invisible Man by Michael O'Brien, adopted from the H.G. Wells novel. I guess I like special effects. Of course the play's message is a serious one, but there were some laughs as well.

Of the two Shaw plays I saw, I preferred Arms and the Man to Too True to be Good. Both were long, but the latter seemed to drag on.

I think Ibsen's Rosmersholm and Authur Miller's The Crucible are both good plays, but I've enjoyed some of Ibsen's other plays more: A Doll's House, Ghosts, An Enemy of the People. The Crucible was long, and I had difficulty hearng a few of the actors. Finally, Noel Coward's Design for Living seemed very dated. I guess it was new and shocking in its time, but certainly not now. Besides, it was the last play I saw, and I was tired.

Please note that these are just my personal reactions to a weekend experience. I am no drama critic, and not even a very frequent theater-goer. I think the Shaw Festival is a wonderful idea, and it's great that so many people attend. I enjoyed meeting the other members of our group, and I enjoyed the natural beauty of the setting. Would I go again? Yes, but probably not next year.

Copyright 2006 by Marlys Marshall Styne

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