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A Clevelander visits the Shaw

Roy Berko

Member, Cleveland Critics Circle, American Theatre Critics Association

The Shaw Festival is one of the two major Canadian theatre celebrations, the other being The Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ontario.  Both are professional high quality venues.

The Shaw Festival is a tribute to George Bernard Shaw and his writing contemporaries.

Many Clevelanders take the four-hour drive up to The Shaw, as it is called by locals, to participate in theatre, tour the “most beautiful little city in Canada,” shop, and eat at the many wonderful restaurants.

It’s a good idea to make both theatre and lodging reservations early, especially with the B&Bs on weekends. Our home away from home is the beautiful and well-placed Wellington House (, directly across the street from The Festival Theatre, within easy walking distance of all the theatres. For information on other B&Bs go to

There are some wonderful restaurants.  My in-town favorite is The Grill on King Street (905-468-7222, 233 King Street).

Having just returned from the Festival, I offer these capsule judgments of some of the shows on the schedule:

THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA– Shaw’s THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA is a special night of musical theatre that might not be to everyone’s liking.  To appreciate the show, the viewer must put aside an attitude of what a musical should sound like and embrace this “different” approach.  I, for one, loved the story, the music and the production.

Through October 13 in the Court House Theatre.

GUYS AND DOLLS–GUYS AND DOLLS is a pleasant production, but lacks the dynamics and Runyonesque qualities to make it a great show.  Too bad.  With a little bit of Yankee flair, it could have been excellent.  “More I Cannot Wish You.”

Through November 3 in the Festival Theatre.

ENCHANTED APRIL–Shaw’s ENCHANTED APRIL is a well-performed, well directed, well written charming comedy that should delight those interested in an escape from the real world into a voyage of discovery of what is really important in life.

Through October 26, 2013 at the Festival Theatre.

PEACE IN OUR TIME— PEACE IN OUR TIME is a farcical romp, pitting the Three Stooges  against Shavian satire. Though the second act gets a little tedious, the overall effect is a learning experience about the foibles of politics and the stupidity of humans for allowing governmental systems to operate with little regard for humanity.

Through October 12 in the Court House Theatre.

TRIFLES–TRIFLES is an interesting quick venture in the theatre which presents two pillars of theatrical writing in early works.  It’s worth seeing this production  to experience how Susan Glaspell and Eugene O’Neil give glimpses of their talents in these early endeavors.

Through October 12 in the Court House Theatre.

FAITH HEALER– Brian Friel’s FAITH HEALER is definitely not a play for everyone.  It fails to grab and hold attention, giving the director and actors a difficult performance task.  It’s unclear why the artistic team at The Shaw chose this play when much better Friel scripts are available.

Through October 6, 2013 in the Royal George Theatre.

OUR BETTERS— OUR BETTERS is a social commentary that will delight those who like to delve into British social classes.  In this case they also get to see snapshots of Americans trying to be Brits, upper class ones at that.

Through October 27 in the Royal George Theatre.

To read the complete reviews of these shows go to:

Shows I didn’t see, but are part of the season are:

LADY WINDEMERE’S FAN–Oscar Wilde’s bitingly satirical attack on Victorian morals.

MAJOR BARBARA—Shaw’s provocative and witty play about immorality and the testing of beliefs and ideals.

ARCADIA—Tom Stoppard’s intellectually dazzling mystery and love story, which is set in both 1809 and the present time.

Two plays which will be presented as staged readings:

THE MOUNTAINTOP—Broadway’s smash hit of this past season regarding the night before the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot.  (For a review of the play go to and search the title.  (Only September 1)

JERUSALEM—The Tony Award winning play which ran in London (2009) and on Broadway (2010), which concerns tall tales and past glories. (Only October 13)

For theatre information, a brochure or tickets, call 800-511-7429 or go on-line to Ask about packages that include lodging, meals and tickets. Also be aware that the festival offers day-of-the-show rush tickets and senior matinee prices.

Go to the Shaw Festival! Find out what lovely hosts Canadians are, and see some great theatre!  Don’t forget your passport as it’s the only form of identification that will be accepted for re-entry into the U.S.