Set in the two-week 1885 Serbo-Bulgarian War, a ragged and exhausted Serbian officer is given aid and comfort by a young Bulgarian woman affianced to a super-patriotic Bulgarian cavalry officer. The inner story of flirtation is juxtaposed with the outer story of animosity, resembling Romeo and Juliet in its structure of relationships.
George Bernard Shaw’s smart script is a study in contrasts: Bulgarians and Serbians, men and women, old and young, mother and daughter, invincibility and vulnerability, vanity and modesty, deceit and innocence, master and servant, and the promise of glory in love and war and the real chaos of both.
The 16th Street Players feature Lindi Press as Catherine Petkoff the mother of Raina, Jennifer Cedar-Kraft as Louka the manipulating house servant , Coley Grundman as the Serbian officer Bluntschli, Robert Love as the servant Nicola, Albert Meyers as Petkoff (Raina’s father) and Cin Seperi as Sergius the prideful cavalryman and Raina’s groom to be.
They support Colleen Egan’s beautiful performance as Raina Petkoff as she deftly navigates her obstacles and opportunities, including propriety, vulnerability, deceit, defiance, the inanity of war, and a tender subplot too. Colleen Egan echoes the full range of contradictions that make up this intelligent script.
Director John Hull’s precise blocking and timing maximize the catalog of ironies that compose this fine play. The brilliant costumes by Maria Graham and the elegant theatre space visually highlight the spectacle.
Arms and the Man is one of Shaw’s first plays, opening nine years after the war it depicts. Having written over 60 plays, many novels, and over 250,000 letters, Shaw was one of the English languages most prolific and insightful writers. Don’t miss this introduction to him.
Friday evening performances are at 7:30 on November 12 and 19. All other performances are weekend matinees at 3:00 o’clock on November 13, 14, 20 and 21. General seating. Admission is free.
Performances are at the Notre Dame Senior Plaza at 347 Dolores Street, across from Mission Dolores, between 16th and 17th Streets in San Francisco.
The cast features Jennifer Cedar-Kraft, Colleen Egan, Coley Grundman, Robert Love, Albert Meyers, Lindi Press and Cin Seperi. The stage is managed by Paul Seliga.
For information call 650 952-3021.
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