Arms and The Man
Patriotism and romanticism is playfully mocked in the ‘Arms and The Man’ where a division of comic reversals takes shape in the Royal George Theatre.

Forever Fashionable Farce

When you dwell upon the infinite wisdom that drives the George Bernard Shaw playwrighting legacy, it’s hard to believe that the ultra-clever Irish socialist would have a frothy romantic comedy in him. But take a deeper look into Arms And The Man and you’ll discover there’s a whole lot more going on.

His bullet proof narrative featuring Captain Bluntschli (Graeme Somerville), a Swiss mercenary that strays into the bedroom of Raina Petkoff (Kate Besworth), the daughter of a Bulgarian military leader who then conceals his presence warmly lays the ground work for a lighthearted amorous tale.

Complications set in when Raina’s love interest, Sergius (Martin Happer), returns from battle only to have a wandering eye for the Petkoff family maid, Louka (Claire Julien).
A duty driven mother, Catherine (Laurie Paton), a seemingly absent minded father, Major Paul Petkoff (Norman Browning), and a can’t get no satisfaction servant, Nicola (Peter Krantz) add to the layers of hilarity when a high stakes battle for a young woman’s heart begins to brew. It’s anyone’s guess who will be victorious.

As the ‘chocolate cream soldier’ stuck between a rock and a hard place, Graeme Somerville charms in presenting his character’s devotion worthiness. One of his finest moments comes at the end of the play when the closeted capitalist rattles off his inherited assets to position himself as undisputed husband material.

This works extremely well with Kate Besworth’s flighty ingénue with a soft spot for heroes. Not only is she privy to her ‘noble attitude with a thrilling voice’ appeal, deep down Raina is an aristocracy poser which the actor plays down smartly throughout the story.

The Shaw Festival presentation is loaded with laughter due to Morris Panych’s ability to seize excessive fun in the already established funny. And when Ken MacDonald’s second act design illustrates the mechanics of the heart with rotating gears, you’re left with the impression that farce will forever remain in fashion.

Every season needs a feel good theatrical offering. Arms and The Man is tailor made for the lazy days of summer and guaranteed to leave you with a sunset smile.

Review by Steven Berketo

ARMS AND THE MAN by Bernard Shaw Apr. 4 – Oct. 18, 2014 ROYAL GEORGE THEATRE, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario TICKETS $24.00 – $113.00 * 1-800-511-SHAW www.shawfest.com CAST Kate Besworth, Norman Browning, Martin Happer, Stephen Jackman-Torkoff, Claire Julient, Peter Krantz, Laurie Paton, Graeme Somerville, Edmund Stapleton DIRECTOR Morris Panych SET Ken MacDonald COSTUMESCharlotte Deane LIGHTING Jason Hand COMPOSER Ryan DeSouza

4 Readers Commented

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  1. Francine in Buffalo on May 26, 2014

    It was such a pleasure to experience my first Bernard Shaw play. After seeing Arms and the Man, I just want to see more. Thanks for directing me to TorontoStage.com, I’ll definitely read more of your wonderful reviews when new plays open.

  2. Dennis & Danielle on May 27, 2014

    Wow, we actually get what this play is about. Thanks for an easy to ready critique. Have tickets to see this one in July. Keep up the great work.

  3. Terrence on July 4, 2014

    ‘Arms and the Man’ was completely nutty. I have a military father who has his moments but the one in this play takes the cake. Nice to see playwright Bernard Shaw go easy on us in the theatre for a change.

  4. Smiley Samuel on July 27, 2014

    Kate Besworth is the bees knees in this story. I saw her last summer at the Shaw Festival but this role really makes her shine.

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