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    They came, they Shaw, they conquered

    George Bernard Shaw's "Misalliance," a spirited early-1900s comedy of manners, money and romance, gets a rollicking performance by both sighted and visually impaired actors from Theater by the Blind.


    Even without this production's particularities, Shaw's "Misalliance" would be a pleasure, full of satirical humor and broadly drawn characters. The 1909 play is about an odd couple, the guardedly lusty Hypatia (Pamela Sabaugh) and her fiance, the high-strung but effete Bentley (Brian McManamon).

    Company: Theater by the Blind.
    Written by: George Bernard Shaw.
    Cast: Gary Bergman, Brian McManamon, Pamela Sabaugh, Melanie Boland, Xen Theo, George Ashiotis, Michael Dee, Marlene O'Haire, Nicholas Viselli.
    Artistic directors: George Ashiotis, Ike Schambelan.

    Related links: Official site
    Hypatia is the thoroughly modern daughter of a new-money family — her father having made a bundle in the underwear business, which he unashamedly boasts of to whatever fresh victim crosses his path. Why the young woman has chosen Bentley, nicknamed "Bunny" — well, she's not sure herself.

    "Oh, how could anybody be in love with Bunny?" she says. "I like him to kiss me — just as I like a baby to kiss me — but I'm not what you call gone about him."

    Into this adoration gap drops, quite literally, the dashing Joey Percival (Michael Dee) along with a mysterious Polish adventuress (Marlene O'Haire). Who will wind up with whom in this comedy of stuck-up British manners, social class and the sexes?

    This production has an added twist in that it's presented by Theater by the Blind with both sighted and blind cast members. Thanks to thorough rehearsal and strong instincts, the performance is mostly very smooth and it's not always obvious which actors are visually impaired.

    And the show takes on a lightly surreal feeling because the characters announce their own stage directions — not for avant-garde reasons but for practical ones, to help any blind audience members follow the action. For those who can see, it's one of the few reminders that the production is an extraordinary one, and in fact it makes an already charming play a little bit funnier.

    JUNE 18, 2001

    Reader comments on Misalliance:

  • Sheer Pleasure!   from Julius Baker, Jun 25, 2001

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