To marry or not — that is the question

Posted 11/26/10

Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw’s “Getting Married,” first presented 100 years ago in 1908 at the Haymarket Theatre in London, must have …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?

Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.


Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

If you made a voluntary contribution in 2022-2023 of $50 or more, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.

Our print publications are advertiser supported. For those wishing to access our content online, we have implemented a small charge so we may continue to provide our valued readers and community with unique, high quality local content. Thank you for supporting your local newspaper.

To marry or not — that is the question


Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw’s “Getting Married,” first presented 100 years ago in 1908 at the Haymarket Theatre in London, must have horrified a great number of conservative audiences.

Cast members represent a number of views on what marriage should mean for participants and when the play was originally published, it was prefaced by a 91-page treatise by Shaw about various facets of marriage — and divorce.

Considered by many to be the most significant British playwright after Shakespeare, Shaw, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925, was — and is equally well known for his biting social and political commentary— and this play is no exception.

When it first played in London, critics objected to his moral stance and also complained that there was no action and that’s still true. But Shaw’s words are such fun to hear that we stay with it while the Bishop’s daughter Edith (Julie Michalak) rebels against her wedding to young Cecil (Heston Mosher), scheduled later that day — and everyone around her offers an opinion on marriage in general.

Lights go up as Alice, the bride’s mother and bishop’s wife (Jenny Mac Donald), talks about final wedding arrangements with the green grocer Collins (Ed Baerlein, who is also director) . His wry and wise commentary ties the piece together throughout in a perfect role for Baerlein, who delivers Shaw’s humor — and in Act III, delivers his astonishing sister-in-law Zenobia (Lisa Mumpton). Collins’ wife, whom he describes as “a regular old hen,” always wanted her children around her, which is why they’ve all run away from her, he says. But when he needs to consult with a woman, it’s his brother George’s wife he talks to.

Eric Victor, as the Bishop’s brother Boxer, is a retired general who is oh-so-proper as he tries to convince Alice’s sister Lesbia (Suzanna Wellens) to marry him. This is an ongoing 10-year, one-way courtship and she again refuses, basically saying she doesn’t wish to be bothered with having a man underfoot around the house. She would rather enjoy having children, she says — but not at the price of marrying. She is obviously wealthy and independent.

The bishop’s other brother, recently-divorced Reginald and his ex, the flippant Leo (Vanessa Bowie), appear together for the family wedding. She sees nothing wrong with a woman having two husbands — she has an affair going with Hotchkiss (Scott A. Bellot), who “has a face like a mushroom,” according to stuffy Reginald (Randy Diamon). “I should like Reggie for everyday and Hotchkiss to go out with in the evening!”

The bishop Alfred (Fred Lewis), is surprisingly tolerant and talks of letters he receives from a mystery woman, while his chaplain Soames (David Fennerty) represents the straight and narrow churchman, full of pious pronouncements as he fussily dusts and straightens the room.

Staging involves a simple set, the bishop’s home, with a large table at the front. There are three acts, but the device of picking up exactly where the previous act stopped gives the effect of one unbroken work. Eventually the characters agree to write up a statement on marriage and Zenobia, who seems to collect men, arrives dressed in flaming red, to put in her two cents’ worth.

Costumes by Sally Diamond are early 1900s in styling and the set looks like a photo of a room from that period. The day passes with no need for scene changes as characters speak in usually -entertaining words. An evening with Shaw leaves one smiling and wishing to recall pithy quotes.

Germinal Stage Denver is in its 37th season of delivering stimulating theater, including 16 Shaw productions.

If you go:

“Getting Married” by George Bernard Shaw runs through Dec. 12 at Germinal Stage Denver at 2450 W. 44th Ave., Denver. Performances: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 7 p.m. Sundays and 2 p.m. Nov. 6. Tickets: $21-75, $19.75, $17.75. 303-455-7108


Our Papers

Ad blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.