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22
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By: George Bernard Shaw
Directed by: Brian Pastor
Reviewed by: Frank West

The wonderfully funny, even hilarious, comedy is about the folly of people deluding themselves. It is a wonderful performance and I enjoyed myself greatly.
One of the main characters deludes himself into thinking that he is better than everyone else. That character is Sergius. He is a swaggering cavalry officer in a small, backward Balkan country. He is so puffed-up with self-pride that he believes he is a great military leader.
His lady love, and fiancée, is Raina. She is taken in by his attitude about himself. She says, “Sergius is just as noble as he looks.” She calls him, “my king.” He calls her “my queen.”
Quoting Penguin Classics: “Dearest, all my deeds have been yours. You inspired me. I have gone thru the war like a knight in a tournament, with his lady looking down on him!”
That concept of nobility was a common Victorian illusion. Leave it to an Irishman to write a play debunking this. Shaw wrote the play in 1894 and it is a satire about the illusion of nobility. Yet, even today, we meet obnoxious people who believe they are better than the rest of us.
Captain Bluntschli is a solider from Switzerland who serves in the army. After a lost battle, he escapes. The press release says: “He hides in the bedroom of Bulgarian heiress, Raina…” she hides him from his pursuers who would kill him.
Bluntschli is the opposite of Sergius. He is down-to-earth and realistic about himself and the world.
Another dose of reality for Raina is when she looks out a courtyard window to admire her hero, Sergius, and sees him forcing his attentions on her servant. This tells her that her opinion of him is an illusion, and that he has fooled her and himself.
All of these happenings are accompanied by great laughs as each situation develops. The acting is vigorous and fully shows the personalities of the characters—even to the rolling of their eyes. The actors perfectly show the subtle actions that Shaw put in Arms and the Man.
The wonderful acting can be carefully seen and appreciated because the theater is intimate in size, having about 100 seats.
The delightful acting is the result of the high standards of Director Brian Pastor. He draws a vibrant performance from the marvelous actors. I talked with him and found him to be a pleasant person with wide knowledge of the theater. He exemplifies City Lit, which “is dedicated to the vitality…of the literary imagination.”
You’ll enjoy this production of Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw and directed by Brian Pastor. It will be presented by City Lit Theater now thru October 21. It will be presented Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 and Sundays at 3:00. Ticket prices are $32, seniors $27, students and military, $12. City Lit Theater is at 1020 W. Bryn Mawr in Chicago. The theater is inside the Edgewater Presbyterian Church building.

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