at the Colonial
Misalliance, a bright union of acid dialogue and fanciful plot, serves as a scrap-book for assorted bits of Shavian philosophy. Skimming over anything profound, the play is an agreeable jumble of Shaw's acumen and nonsense. By exaggerating speech and gestures, the Broadway version has heightened the whimsey and strengthened the plot.
Shaw's subject is the English middle class, its pomp and pretensions. He focuses particularly on the intimate family life of an underwear manufacturer, a middle-aged man with a predilection for undercover love affairs.
In the role of this empire-building industrialist, Martyn Green makes an easy transition from Gilbert and Sullivan to GBS. Even when the tycoon is most pedantic, Green keeps a light touch in his performance.
Jan Farrand, a former Brattle leading lady, is cast as the manufacturer's eager daughter. Anxious to exchange propriety for action, Miss Ferrand is a sophisticated vamp with a low and hungry laugh. She hobbles about the stage in a tight, flapper costume, snapping up each scene and wiggling off stage with it.
The exaggerations in her performance are typical of the acting throughout. Katherina Sergava, as a masculine lady acrobat, is Shaw's burlequed version of a superwoman. Between escaping from one attempted seduction and another, she delivers an impassioned polemic on the evils of love, one of the highpoints of the evening.
Robert Casper's sketch of a prissy, tantrum-throwing spoiler and Robert Flether's portrait of a stuffy Englishman are also twisted to caricature.
This farce treatment fits every absurd turn of plot. The exaggeration may not always be good Shaw, but it is consistently bouyant entertainment. An extra attraction is added after curtain calls, as Green runs through some of the top songs from his D'Oyly-Carte days.