Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Shaw play is flimsy -- but fun

Cleveland Press July 15, 1971

The Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival moved from Shakespeare to Shaw last night and from serious matters to high comedy.

The season's second production is "You Never Can Tell," George Bernard Shaw's comedy about love.

Not the sermon-type play one generally associates with Shaw, "You Never Can Tell" still has its share of barbed social comment but is basically an entertainment -- not a message.

While the playing is properly stylized, the general tone of the production and the humor is broad. This is a fun show, a George Bernard Shaw play for people who don't like George Bernard Shaw as well as for those who do.

The time is 1896 and the conflict is between a romantic young man named, appropriately, Valentine, and an emancipated, realistic, non-emotional young woman called Gloria., She has been raised by her mother to be a 20th Century woman, to live by reason and to forego emotion.

There will be little solace in the play for proponents of women's lib, for while Shaw could function as an unsentimental writer he also was not one to throw away either the comedy or the Iyricism of the traditional man-woman relationship.

Gloria, her mother and her younger brother and sister have lived away from England for many years and know nothing about their I father.

The long arm of coincidence functions to bring about a meeting with their father whom the young children have met quite by accident. He, in his way, is as un sentimental as the mother and has a rather harsh personality.

John Milligan plays Valentine with the proper amount of romanticism and poetry. He also successfully plays the realist who can see through his own infatuation but who is hopelessly in love anyway.

Mary Lindsay's Gloria is physically appealing and properly haughty but she doesn't always come up to Milligan in their more spirited exchanges.

Brenda Bergstrom and Robert Englund are excellent as the high-spirited brother and sister and Keith Mackey growls well as their long-lost father. Judith Shogren neither looked old enough to be the mother nor was she always in the Part.

In spite of some touches (having the son in short pants was one of t h e m) director Lawrence Carra has generally observed the spirit of high comedy in this production.