Some of the bluntest political satire and drollest romantic comedy in town is to be found in a 65-year-old play by George Bernard Shaw. Written in 1928 when its author was in his 70s, Shaw’s last popular success is rarely performed in America, where its target–the tensions inherent in a democratic monarchy–may be deemed a bit rarefied. But this portrait of an idealistic, rhetoric-prone ruler who’s loyal but not faithful to his wife, and the governmental gridlock created by his power struggle with a bitterly temperamental parliamentary leader, is apt enough in the Clinton-Dole era; so are its cautionary comments on the fragility of freedom in a society where politics has become “the refuge of a few fanciers of public speaking and party intrigue,” leaving an apathetic public in the irresponsible hands of big business and media monopolies. Andrew Callis directs a mostly-Equity ensemble of skilled, seasoned local actors in this offbeat script, whose emphasis on words over action is well fitted to the program’s staged-reading format; the production launches a welcome season of city-sponsored Shaw readings. Chicago Cultural Center, studio theater, 78 E. Washington (enter at 77 E. Randolph), 744-7648. Through September 26: Sundays, 3 PM; Mondays, 7 PM. Free.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Taylor Boyle.