Major Barbara | Ruth Page Center for the Arts | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

Major Barbara The Short List (Theater) Closing (Theater and Galleries)

When: Mondays, Saturdays, Sundays. Continues through May 18 2015

George Bernard Shaw's 1905 play is an intellectual debate masked as a romantic comedy. It's the story of an English millionaire munitions manufacturer whose daughter has become an officer in the Salvation Army. While Barbara Undershaft provides the poor with charity and prayers, her father, Andrew, offers them jobs and self-respect, insisting his is the more effective road to salvation—and proving his point by bailing out Barbara's cash-strapped ministry. The prickly showdown between idealism and pragmatism is stated both forcefully and wittily in some of Shaw's crispest writing, though the play—written a decade before World War I launched an era of mechanized mass slaughter—doesn't hold up well in our age of drone strikes and suicide bombers. ShawChicago's concert reading, performed on a bare stage by actors at music stands reading from scripts, boasts fine performances by Jack Hickey as Undershaft (ruthless and enlightened in equal measure), Barbara Zahora as the passionately earnest Barbara, and Doug MacKechnie as a philosopher enamored of Barbara but drawn to Andrew's view. —Albert Williams

Price: $30

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