NY: Engaging Shaw

Note: as a working artist, nine productions out of ten involve someone I know. It can't be helped. I generally try to avoid blogging about a production if I am particularly close to someone. But sometimes I still want to. So just so you know, the playwright of Engaging Shaw, John Morogiello, is a close friend of mine.

After the gruesome comedy of McDonagh, I headed off-off-Broadway to the Abingdon Theatre and finished up the day with the smart comedy of John Morogiello. The play Engaging Shaw entertainingly presents a battle-of-the-sexes on par with Beatrice and Benedick: that of G. Bernard Shaw and the woman who would become his wife, Charlotte Payne Townshend. The pair is introduced to each other by Sidney and Beatrice Webb (Marc Geller and Jamee Vance), their friends and fellow members of the Fabian Society (a group that pushed for social democracy and economic equality). Beatrice Webb spends her energies, when she's not working for reform, working for the romantic happiness of her friends, that is, she is a matchmaker. Only Charlotte and Bernard were not intended for each other. A bicycle accident, and their respective wits, brings them together.

But Shaw is a confirmed bachelor, and Charlotte must use all her wiles to get him to fall in love with and marry her. Warren Kelley plays Shaw with an appropriate level of bluster, and Claire Warden as Charlotte matches his every move with buckets of charm to spare.

Morogiello adeptly weaves in the writings of Shaw, Sidney Webb, and Beatrice Webb, and creates a night of theatre that is both smart and thoroughly entertaining.

Abingdon Theatre
Through May 2
3 stars


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