Major Barbara – Review


Gretchen Hall (Barbara Undershaft), Dean Paul Gibson (Andrew Undershaft), Jennifer Clement (Mrs. Baines).  Photo by Pak Han.

Major Barbara

Max Bell Theatre

February 11  – March 9, 2014

Listen to my review from CBC’s Calgary Eyeopener at


For George Bernard Shaw fans – The overwhelmingly talented cast bites into Shaw’s language with glee in this slick  production. Yes it’s one of Shaw’s wordier pieces, the second act is a bit of a slog in places and the play’s resolution is a tad improbable. But all that is easy to toss aside in this production with its splendid set design, solid direction and many stand out performances that allow Shaw’s comedic satire to be the real star.  SEE IT

For Shaw newbies – I’ve heard from many people who find this play difficult to like because they simply couldn’t get into the dialogue. To that I say, yes, Shaw’s plays are hard work. They require attention and a good ear to catch the meaning and humour – this one more than other’s due to the wordy nature of the script that lacks in attention-grabbing action. Shaw is worth your time and this production is beautifully cast and presented. Perhaps go with the foreknowledge that you’ll need to keep on your toes, or perhaps wait for an easier Shaw play to start you on your journey with the playwright. MAYBE SEE IT

For occasional theatre goers – You won’t find a more talented cast and as usual, Theatre Calgary’s (in co-production with San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theatre) production is visually splendid. However the satiric nature of the debate-like heavy dialogue may not be your cup of tea. MAYBE SEE IT

For theatre junkies – We don’t get Shaw all that often in Calgary and this production does a terrific job of bringing his work to us. With a killer cast, the best direction I’ve seen to date from Dennis Garnhum and an unexpected but visually striking set design, this is well worth your time. SEE IT

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