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The John Alden Company's "Misalliance" at St. James' Hall on Saturday was quite the most exuberantly skilful and sharp pointed performance of a Shaw comedy seen in Sydney for many years, a thing of sheer delight.
.Producer John Appleton, by persuading his fine cast to make dialogue and characterisation bubble up with a champagne fizz, modestly concealed the fact that this extremely garrulous, plotless, structureless super conversation in a Surrey country house is uncommonly difficult to put over. It could so easily have been a most unconscionable car bashing.
Indeed, it is likely that at interval some ears were already reeling . with the exhaustion brought on by unwonted over exercise, for Shaw's first half forages about noisily in the foot- hills of wit and satire; but after that came the shining pinnacles of Shavian fun, farce, surprise and, in passing, pray remember how recklessly Shaw himself used to make Irish stew of his meta- phors!
If this play has one theme more than a thousand others, that theme is the barrier between parents and children, with the prediction that in 3,000 A.D. it
will be bad form for children even to know who their parents are! This theme . is examined spasmodically in the household of a self-made manufacturer of underwear, whose home is in- vaded by a crashed aviator, -a lady acrobat from Poland, and 'a quaking socialist who comes to
For all-round strength, the cast is the finest I have ever seen in a non-professional.production in Sydney. What blessed relief this is from the usual setup which provides two or three skilful players, and then a string of makeweights! 1 hardly know whether to praise the players for their effervescing individual skills, and their feeling for pre- cise character type or to praise Mr. Appleton for selecting them so shrewdly.
Edward Howell, although he kept the prompter busy, was rich with mercantile consequence as the manufacturer; ' self-made manliness positively oozed from his Lancashire accents and his way of flexing his portly, frock coated figure before imaginary fireplaces. The Poland of
Chopinionated romance was re- duced to delightful ruins by the intense, muscular, husky, hand- some, love-scorning acrobat drawn by Muriel Steinbeck.
A goblin seeing pink elephants could hardly have looked more comically startled than* Hal Rogers as the skinny little social- ist, with his desperately big talk and his store of courage so small that an ant's sneeze might well collapse it. Except for a few emotional moments. Richard Trent was ideal as the lank, slack-jawed, colonial-governor type of English lord; the kind of aristocrat who is accustomed to seeing real elephants and saying "quite, quite!"
Alistair Roberts's 1909 cos- tumes were a picturesque, family album blend of period grace and period absurdity. Most amusing was the hectically overchecked "horse-rug" jacket and knickers allotted to John Ewart, who made a most entertaining booby from the King John school of screaming tantrums.
Thérèse Desmond was quite charming and genteel as a lace collared dowager, horrified by the mere mention of drainage. Marie Clarke, quick and mettlesome as the saucy daughter, was perhaps a little too aggressive with her pertness and audacity; Rodney Taylor was an exemplary pat- tern of "escapist" youth, and Owen Weingott almost equally exemplary as a pattern of hypo- critical chivalry.-L.B.