Misalliance, Writers’ Theatre Chicago. Hope springs eternal among the mismatched characters in George Bernard Shaw’s surprisingly uplifting comedy about social stratification in Victorian England. Guests at an unassuming country house all find enlightenment in the glow of sexual awakening, casting off the shackles of traditional class values and embracing the spirit of adventure. Plot is more or less a secondary concern, though Shaw spins an engaging yarn about two idly rich families whose planned union undergoes a radical transformation at the hands of a trio of unexpected and uninvited guests. But the play’s primary appeal is its rich, fanciful, eye-opening dialogue.
To director William Brown’s credit, this production–set entirely in a bright and very verdant sitting room–never lapses into static talkiness despite the play’s almost three-hour length. It helps that the ensemble is chock-full of committed actors with pitch-perfect comic timing. Joel Hatch and Jonathan Weir contribute fine performances as the Viagra-ready elder statesmen, Susan Hart excels as a loopy Polish aviatrix, and Michael Halberstam is delightful as a bumbling anarchist. But it’s Guy Adkins who steals the show. His mincing mama’s boy Bentley is a 180-degree shift from his recent turn as Hamlet in Court Theatre’s production, offering further evidence that Adkins might be the most breathtakingly versatile actor in Chicago.