Chicago Theatre Review
ShawChicago Revisits George Bernard Shaw’s “Androcles and the Lion”
Androcles and the Lion, ShawChicago
Ruth Page Theater, 1016 North Dearborn Street, Chicago
February 4-27, 2012
For staged readings and Shaw’s works, ShawChicago is the place to go.
Review by Darcy Rose Coussens
This February, ShawChicago is revisiting George Bernard Shaw’s “Androcles and the Lion” for its 100th anniversary. The show is a humorous take on the unlikely friendship between a lion and the Greek Christian who removes a thorn from his paw. The story takes place during Caesar’s reign in Rome, when both Androcles and the Lion are captured and expected to fight for the entertainment of the Romans. Androcles and his fellow Christians refuse to renounce their religion, but when sent to fight, the Lion remembers Androcles and refrains from hurting him.
This traditional tale is entertaining even in a minimal, staged reading approach. The actors were quite funny, particularly Christian Gray as Androcles, and the lion’s mask was very impressive. Although I prefer readings in which the actors interact with each other instead of facing the audience at all times, this production was engaging and only about an hour and a half in length, something important to consider for a staged reading with minimal action.
I might not pay $25 for a ticket, especially considering the extremely minimal production aspects. However, this not-for-profit is an excellent cause to support, presenting the plays of George Bernard Shaw as well as his contemporaries in a way that allows the imagination to flourish while involving several talented actors. They also present an extremely friendly community, providing for a comfortable setting and pleasant experience overall.
For fans of Shaw’s work, next up will be George Bernard Shaw’s “Mrs. Warren’s Profession,” which will run April 14-May 7, also at the Ruth Page Theater.