Arts Runoff: MAJOR BARBARA

Disclaimer: This review is based on a dress rehearsal of Major Barbara on Tuesday and is therefore “unofficial”.  It’s unfair to judge a show based on any rehearsal, even the second-to-last one.

What do you need to save the world? Guns, smarts, souls, dollars, friends, or some of everything?

Summary: Set just a few years before World War I, George Bernard Shaw’s amazingly prescient play pits Barbara (Lilli Stein ’11), a committed Major in the Salvation Army, against her estranged father, Andrew Undershaft (Matt Nakitare ‘11.5), a multimillionaire arms dealer.  The play revolves around intense, heady discussions among the family members, with no particular character, except maybe Undershaft, dominating the action.

Just some thoughts: Even at a dress rehearsal, the entire cast’s acting was clearly top-notch.  And the accents are fantastically done. // The play could just as easily be set in 2006 as in 1906: a great choice for talking about the effects of non-state groups like corporations and NGOs in world politics (OK, PoliSci nerd, back to dungeon with you). // Midd professors are never afraid of daring shows: Major Barbara is two and a half hours long (after cutting out about a half-hour from the original), and it’s full of dense intellectual discussions.  The actors and director do a great job of guiding us through it, but perhaps the fact is that we just aren’t as patient as audiences were before cars, TV and radio.

Contextual Rating: If you have something important to do this weekend,
…do it, and see this show if you can
(and if you already have a strong interest in theater or politics, bump this rating up to the next category);
…put it off and see this show;
…skip it. SEE THIS SHOW.

“Major Barbara” at Wright Theater.  Two more shows: Friday (TONIGHT) and Saturday at 8:00. Tickets are no longer available online, but my secret sources tell me the house wasn’t packed last night, so chances are good that you’ll get in.

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