Criterion Theatre's new call to arms
THE Criterion Theatre's latest production tackles one the early works of history's finest playwrights, George Bernard Shaw.
Arms and the Man is a charming comedy, an entertaining take on the futility of war, the pretentiousness of the Nouveau Riche and the importance of chocolate.
This entertaining production is ably directed by theatre stalwart Mareia Cowper. Mareia is a life member of the Criterion Theatre but left Grafton in 1999 so the company is delighted to have her back in the theatre fold.
Mareia's credits are many, and established Criterion patrons will remember her popular productions of Money & Friends by David Williamson and Hotel Sorento by Hannie Rayson. She returned to the Criterion stage last year as CWA president Maree Bucknell in the hilarious comedy Australia Day, and is now in the director's chair.
Raina Petkoff, played beautifully by Meg Lucas, wants more out of life. She's stuck in a small town and is spoilt and pampered by her doting parents, Catherine (Glenys Addison) and Major Paul Petkoff (Merve Prior).
Raina, raised on a diet of romance novels and opera, knows there is more to life; she wants adventure, excitement and love.
So, when Wesley Chegwidden, who plays the charming Swiss soldier trying to escape the battlefield, shimmies up a drain pipe into her bedroom, what's an adventurous and practical-minded girl to do? Offer him safety, chocolate and of course, fall in love.
Raina's life becomes complicated when her betrothed returns from war. It appears she is already engaged to the most eligible, gallant man in town, Major Sergius Sarranoff (played by Marty Wells)
When you add the saucy and outspoken maid, Louka to the romantic mix, things really do become interesting. Melissa Christie's interpretation of this role will seduce audiences.
No one is more confused by these antics than Raina's parents who are under the misapprehension that Louka and their dependable manservant, Nicola (Paul White) are engaged.
In true George Bernard Shaw style, this is more than your average love triangle.
There is irony, comedy, parental concern and a saucy sub-plot.
"Arms and the Man" was first produced by the Royal Avenue Theatre, now the Playhouse Theatre in the West End of London, in 1894.
It has lost none of its relevance or humour and was one of Shaw's first commercial successes.
He was called on to stage after the curtain. Amidst the cheers, one audience member booed. Shaw replied, in characteristic fashion, "My dear fellow, I quite agree with you, but what are we two against so many?"
All tickets now on sale at Buckley's Music Store, 2/137 Prince Street, Grafton (entrance on Bacon Street), including Rotary Opening Night which is a fundraising event for Rotary Projects. General public are also welcome this night.
Show dates are:
- Preview night Thursday 25th May 7.30pm
- Rotary Opening Night Friday 26h May 7.30pm
- Saturday 27thMay 7.30pm
- Matinee Sunday 28th May 2pm
- Friday 2nd June 7.30pm
- Saturday 3rd June 7.30pm
- Last Performance Matinee Sunday 4th June 2pm
- Preview $15
- All other shows $20
Table seating, BYO drinks and nibbles.
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