The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles

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This rough gem by George Bernard Shaw, written in 1935, is smartly polished in Shaw Chicago's staged reading, the second in the company's season-long tribute to the writer's lesser-known works. Blending the mysticism of A Passage to India with the verve of a Punch cartoon, Shaw's scattershot script describes a polygamous "superfamily" on a newly arisen Polynesian island. But this marriage of East and West founders on human perversity and celestial intervention. Desperately concluding matters, Shaw invents a hilarious Judgment Day that vaporizes the world's useless folk--including doctors but not lawyers or clergymen! Director Andrew Callis's 12 actors draw out the quirky eloquence in Shaw's dogged allegory, with excellent work from William J. Norris as both the officious Angel of Doom and a winsome suicide, Gustavo Mellado and Catherine Worth as the wise island elders, and Terence Gallagher in the hilarious title role of a clueless, homesick English clergyman who throws himself into polygamy with grand gumption. Chicago Cultural Center, studio theater, 78 E. Washington (enter at 77 E. Randolph), 312-744-7648. Through January 13: Sundays, 2 and 7 PM; Mondays, 7 PM. Free, but reservations are required. --Lawrence Bommer

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): stage photo.

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