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Review: Washington Stage Guild's HOW HE LIED TO HER HUSBAND a Perfect Pre-Summer Diversion

Washington Stage Guild's HOW HE LIED TO HER HUSBAND a Perfect Pre-Summer Diversion

Review:  Washington Stage Guild's HOW HE LIED TO HER HUSBAND a Perfect Pre-Summer Diversion

Poor George Bernard Shaw. He set out to write plays that mocked contemporary morals, only to have the self-righteous, self-anointed morals police burn him in effigy-or, at the very least, reduce his favorite American actor to hitting the Vaudeville circuit to pay the bills.

After the scandals precipitated by his plays Candida and Mrs. Warren's Profession-the first about a woman's sensible choice in a mate, the second about another woman's sensible choice of occupation-Shaw was asked by the much-harried American actor-manager Arnold Daly to come up with a one-act play to fill out a double bill. With little more than the promise that it might be tried out, anonymously, on tour in Vaudeville before it hit New York.

Shaw, vacationing in Scotland and confronted by typically Scottish weather (what on earth did he expect? The Riviera it ain't) made use of four rain-soaked days to toss off a one-act farce. Which, in typical Shavian fashion, cheekily promoted his other work while admitting that it was hardly a night at the opera.

The result? How He Lied to Her Husband, a charming, 40-minute diversion which will enliven any home, and should be at the top of your to-watch list for this weekend. Available only until Sunday night (per hyper-strict Equity guidelines), it features three of DC's great talents and offers us a tantalizing glimpse of what kind of fare the Washington Stage Guild will serve up, live and onstage, come the Fall.

And Fall cannot possibly come too soon.

Jordan Brown gives us a fine turn as the charming teenage poet, Henry Upchurch who, being a self-anointed love god, is smitten with a middle-aged, upper-middle-class woman and has written sonnets to her beauty. As Aurora, the object of his idolatry, Julie-Ann Elliott is in solid comic form as she tries to extricate herself (and her young beau) from considerable awkwardness: it seems that his hot-blooded sonnets have landed in the hands of Aurora's harpy of a sister-in-law and, through her, into the hands of her husband, Henry Bompas (rhymes with "rumpus," as Shaw reminds us).

This being Shaw, of course, a plot to deceive the husband backfires spectacularly and ends with some fisticuffs in the drawing room-but not for the reasons you might expect. As Henry Bompas, one of the two 'combatants' here, Lawrence Redmond's implacability-not to mention his impatience with mealy-mouthed adolescence-is priceless and well worth the watch. The high dudgeon Redmond displays is for reasons that might seem absurd to outsiders, but to fans of Shaw it's par for the course.

That the play's title also serves as the punchline for the whole thing should give you some idea that this is a diversion that functions both at the level of the cheap one-liner and the more sober level of pointing out society's ridiculous expectations of true love, fidelity, marriage, etc., ad nauseum.

As I said above, Fall cannot come soon enough. But Washington Stage Guild's How He Lied to Her Husband is a finely-tuned, nicely Zoomed prelude to our almost-post-pandemic Summer.

Screen shot, L to R: Larry Redmond as Teddy Bompas, Julie-Ann Elliott as Aurora Bompas, and Jordan Brown as Henry Upchurch. Screen Shot courtesy of Washington Stage Guild.

Performances of How He Lied to Her Husband will be available on Washington Stage Guild's YouTube Channel through 8 PM on Sunday, May 23.

To enjoy this production, please visit: : https://bit.ly/325awwU

And to support Washington Stage Guild's upcoming season, be sure to make a donation through: https://stageguild.org/support/

Regional Awards


From This Author - Andrew White


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