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BWW Reviews: MISALLIANCE at STNJ is a True Comic Delight for Theatergoers

"Providence likes to be tempted."


Prepare to laugh out loud. A dynamic presentation of George Bernard Shaw's Misalliance is now at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey (STNJ) through August 30th. Directed by Stephen Brown-Fried, the staging and tempo of the show is exceptional. The play has not been performed at STNJ for 40 years. Welcome this gem of a show to the Madison stage. Misalliance will top off your summer entertainment.

Misalliance takes place on a Saturday afternoon at home of Patriarch, John Tarleton, an undergarment entrepreneur, who lives with his wife and two adult children in their luxurious country estate. The arrival of unexpected guests makes for raucous scenes as the characters clash about the generational divide, social class and gender roles. Even though the play is set in the early 1900's, the themes continue to resonate today.

Shaw's witty prose is delivered with seamless precision by STNJ'S stellar cast. The fast-paced dialogue doesn't miss a beat and the eccentricities of the characters are perfectly performed.

Ames Adamson masters the role of John Tarleton, an aging, boisterous, rascal who is quick to analogize situations as they occur to events from great literature. Erica Rolfsrud is perfect as the ever-patient wife, mother and hostess, Mrs. Tarleton who attempts to bring order to a disorderly home. Their son, Johnny Tarleton is a glum, temperamental sort well played by Brian Cade. Katie Fabel captures the role of the Tarleton daughter, Hypatia who tempts the hearts of many suitors including that of Bentley Summerhays played by Matthew Sherbach. Sherbach's clever portrayal of the fussy, spoiled young aristocrat keeps the comedy flowing. Jonathan Gillard Daly is excellent as the stately Lord Summerhays, Matthew's father and a member of the country's nobility.

The story takes on a new tenor when a plane crashes in the family's yard bringing Joey Percival played by Robbie Simpson and his co-pilot Lina Szcepanowska played by Caralyn Kozlowski onto the scene. Simpson and Kozlowski shine in their roles and cause more romantic intrigue. Lina, a beautiful athlete, is quite the temptress and Joey is quick to attract the attention of Hypatia. Enter A Young Man, played by Matt Kleckner, who adds to the chaos while bringing a touch of sensibility to the strange alliances.

Stressful situations and quirky relationships in Misalliance make for totally interesting and hysterical interactions. The 2 hour 45 minute show flies by, making you yearn for a few more wonderfully crafted scenes.

The design team makes Edwardian era England come alive with scenic design by Brian Clinnin, lighting design by Andrew Hungerford, costume design by Tilly Grimes, and sound design by Toby Algya. The Production Stage Manger is Denise Cardarelli.

Misalliance will be on The Shakespeare of New Jersey Stage through Sunday, 30th at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre at 36 Madison Avenue (at Lancaster Road) in Madison. Tickets and subscriptions can be purchased by calling the Box Office at 973.408.5600 or by visiting

Photo Credit: Jerry Dalia

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From This Author Marina Kennedy