APT's 'Engaging Shaw' is a literary rom-com for an unconventional couple

Posted October 29, 2018

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By Lindsay Christians of The Cap Times | October 29, 2018

The question in “Engaging Shaw,” the literary romantic comedy now running at American Players Theatre in Spring Green, is not “will they or won’t they.”

The match between George Bernard “Bernie” Shaw and the witty, independent heiress Charlotte Payne-Townshend is a foregone conclusion. From the first scene, these two are as destined for each other as Ross and Rachel or, in a more apt romantic parallel, Beatrice and Benedick.

“Engaging Shaw,” directed by David Frank in the Touchstone Theatre and running there through Nov. 18, imagines the very literate courtship between Shaw, as he calls himself, and Charlotte over several years in the late 1890s. Written by John Morogiello in 2007, “Shaw” offers a droll bit of escapism in APT’s 2018 shoulder season, staged in the suggestion of a rustic cottage designed by Yu Shibagaki with attractive period costumes by Daniel Tyler Mathews.

When Charlotte, played by Colleen Madden, collides with the aspiring playwright in a minor bicycle wreck, the two instantly take a shine to each other. Madden’s eyes sparkle as she watches Shaw, a lively, puckish Jim Ridge, flirt shamelessly with her.

“Whenever I have been left alone in a room with a female, she has invariably thrown her arms around me and declared she adored me,” he teases. “It is fate. ... You can’t think what delightful agony it is to be in love with me.”

Charlotte becomes Shaw's companion, then his “indispensable” secretary. He wants the benefits of marriage without the responsibilities. Charlotte wants Shaw.

Both hold to the idea that they are “unconventional,” and each swears to be independent to the end of their days.

Read the rest of the review here!