Our Betters
Definitely not two peas from the same pod, Claire Julien as Pearl (left) takes all she can get in her life of loose values while Julia Course as Bessie (right) chooses to look before she leaps in The Shaw Festival’s sparkling presentation of ‘Our Betters.’

A Play Of Striking Beauty

Lush is back in grandiose style at the Royal George Theatre where Ken MacDonald’s clever set rains down with adamant purity. But is anyone really so pure in this drawing-room character study delivering relentless laughs as the narrative takes an in-depth look at the repercussions of ‘the life’?

Shaped with a cookie cutter class story design, Our Betters features purposely imperfect souls where aimless aristocrats appear who never seemingly have worked a single day in their life for their above average standard of living. Everyone stops by for a visit, social events are a top priority and prevailing good conscience or empathy for others is in painfully short supply.

It’s these comedic building blocks that set the stage for the humourously semi-predictable.

‘The future is everybody’s property,’ insists a wild and free Pearl (Claire Julien). Her tame and restrained sister, Bessie (Julia Course), has a different outlook towards life and when multiple men pour out their hearts for the sophisticated siblings it’s anyone’s guess who will be left to pick up the relationship pieces.

On one level, Our Betters questions the composite of marriage. Culturally misinformed views of love and money come with a wealth of eye rolling lines yet the story strikes a far deeper chord in its examination of beneath the surface misery that permeates within elitist circles.

In what’s likely the story’s most pivotal moments comes with Fleming’s (Wade Bogert-O’Brien) heart-wrenching commentary about the bland state of emotional affairs in an attempt to stop Bessie from tying the proverbial knot.

Act II opens with the same set design in a completely different colour as Act III disappointingly drags with excessive chatter.

Despite this, Somerset Maugham’s comedy is a play of striking beauty with director Morris Panych perfectly capturing the romance of an era with cautious delicacy.

Review by Steven Berketo

By W. Somerset Maugham
Apr. 3 – Oct. 27, 2013
Royal George Theatre
Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
Tickets $24.00 – $110.00

Claire Julien, Julia Course
Catherine McGregor, Laurie Paton
Wade Bogert-O’Brien, Ben Sanders
Anthony Bekenn, Charlie Gallant,
Lorne Kennedy, James Pendarves

Morris Panych

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