How it’s New York: “You Never Can Tell” brought together two terrific New York institutions: The Pearl Theatre Company and Project Shaw. Project Shaw had produced many star-studded and sold-out readings of plays by G.B.S.; this was their first full production.
How it’s Irish: Though often lumped in with English writers, George Bernard Shaw was from Ireland, and his wit, like Oscar Wilde’s, has a clear touch of Irish subversion.
Since 1984, The Pearl Theatre Company has earned a reputation as one of New York’s premier producers of plays in the classical repertory. Their latest production, Bernard Shaw’s You Never Can Tell, lives up to that reputation.
The play, which Pearl co-produced with the Gingold Theatrical Group, is part of Shaw New York, an annual theatrical and community event which includes not only the play, but a mix of other Shavian themed smaller public events, including two symposiums and a concert. The Gingold Group also presents a series, Project Shaw, in which they stage a reading of a different Shaw play once a month at Symphony Space.
You Never Can Tell, which was first produced in 1897, is a hilarious comedy of errors set in an English seaside resort, in which a world famous author and divorced mother of three, Margaret Clandon, has arrived with her children after 18 years abroad, only to land, directly and unwillingly, into the life of her bitter ex-husband, Fergus Crampton. Shaw’s story and dialogue are timeless, and the twists, turns, and psychological shenanigans which follow over the course of the four crisp and crackling acts make for a smart and thoroughly entertaining evening of theater.
The cast is razor sharp from top to bottom, featuring Pearl Resident Acting Company regulars Robin Leslie Brown (Mrs. Clandon), Bradford Cover (Fergus Crampton), Dominic Cuskern (Finch McComas), Dan Daily (Walter Boon), Sean McNall (Mr. Velentine), as well as rep newcomers Zachary Spicer (Walter Bohun), Amelia Pedlow (Gloria), Emma Wisniewski (Dolly Clandon), and Ben Charles (Philip Clandon). Special mention should be made of Ms. Wisniewski and Mr. Charles, who, as the precocious, younger children of Mrs. Clandon, infuse the play with a mischievous energy as they spend the evening buzzing in and out of the story like an adorable, two-headed Puck, invariably leaving trouble in their wake at every turn.
Director David Staller guides the ensemble with skill and precision, while at the same time leaving the actors with plenty of breathing room to fully develop these wonderful, contradictory characters. The production values are state of the art, with the set and costumes (Scenic Designer Harry Feiner and Costume Designer Barbara A. Bell) capturing the era wonderfully.
All in all, You Never Can Tell is a smashing success, the latest triumph by a company that is one of the best things to love about the New York theater community.
You Never Can Tell
The Pearl Theatre Company, 555 W. 42nd Street