It's criminal that Chicago audiences should have to see Julie Harris, one of America's finest actresses, in a piece of shallow claptrap like The Gin Game, now playing at the Royal George. Happily, she's spending her night off next week in a work better suited to her abilities: Dear Liar, Jerome Kilty's readers-theater adaptation of the long correspondence between George Bernard Shaw and Mrs. Patrick Campbell, the English actress whom the Irish playwright admired, loved, and nearly ran away with. ("You have wounded my vanity: an inconceivable audacity, an unpardonable crime," Shaw wrote Campbell when she stood him up on the night of their planned liaison; but a year later she created the role of Eliza Doolittle for him in Pygmalion.) Interestingly, Dear Liar had its start in Chicago some 40 years ago, when Kilty, then appearing at the Studebaker (now the Fine Arts) theater, performed a draft of it for a local Shaw society; it's proven a durable vehicle over the years for the likes of Katharine Cornell, Peggy Ashcroft, and Harris. Costarring in this pyrotechnic portrait of two prickly personalities is Alvin Epstein, the eminent regional-theater actor known for his performances in Shakespeare, Beckett, and Brecht. The evening's a fund-raiser for Greasy Joan & Company, an off-Loop troupe whose founders worked with Epstein and Kilty at Harvard; it's a more than fitting complement to the group's current production, Shaw's Arms and the Man. The high-priced evening (for which a block of cheap tickets is available to local theater folk on a rush basis) also includes a postshow reception with the stars. Royal George Theatre Center, 1641 N. Halsted, 312-988-9000. Monday, October 27, 7:30 PM. $100. --Albert Williams
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): theater still.