Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Devil's Disciple

photo: Carol Rosegg

Although it's his only play set in America and it functions atypically as a farcical spoof of the melodramatic conventions of its day, you nonetheless know right from the first scene that you're in the land of Shaw's wit, as newly widowed Mother preaches God-fearing goodness and charity while emotionally neglecting the bastard child in her care. Set during the Revolutionary War, the quick-paced, enormously entertaining comedy (at Irish Rep) takes sure but gentle aim at the notions of good and evil: it's not one of Shaw's more complex plays, and it's a cinch that he writes the "good" people who are the quickest to proclaim love of God or of country as the true bad guys, but it's mostly lively, merry fun, put over by a game cast who - if perhaps sometimes a tad too broad - know how to get the laughs out of the material and how to let us savor the succinct jagged gems sprinkled among Shaw's dialogue. This was easily the most enjoyable time I've had at Irish Rep since Mrs. Warren's Profession: maybe they should do a Shaw every season.

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