Review: “Village Wooing”

Throughout history, humans have taught other humans what their lives will be like and what the other, distant life worth living looks like. Artistic Director/Actress Paula Berwanger invites us first on board a luxury pleasure cruise and then into a small but striking town in Village Wooing, a short play by George Bernard Shaw. The show draws us in as witnesses to the tangible chemistry shared between a standoffish travel-guide writer, identified in the text as “A,” and the unrestrained, romantic spirit of a village shop assistant, known as “Z.”

The audience sits intimately before the stage, which has been set with discerning minimalism, using deck chairs, room dividers, and neatly-crafted, paper props to hint at the world. The space’s openness frees up room for each actor to fully engage the other, whilst immersing the audience as members of the luxury pleasure cruise and village’s inhabitants.

In a performance of charming authenticity and bottomless vigor, Berwanger especially zeroes in on “Z,” when she says, “‘Have your fling’ he said; ‘for they never can take that away from you once you’ve had it,’” in her tactful pursuit of Cameron Addicott, who tackles “A” with not only immense clarity and skill but with great heart. Scene Director Renata Soares’s deft and exquisite direction digs into Shaw’s world, peeling away each characters’ manners to reveal the depth of their humanity. In doing so, the show reminds us love does not always exist in the world’s current arrangement.

Embark with them at the Alchemical Theater Laboratory in this comedy exploring marriage, identity, and society, and you’ll leave having witnessed a stirring theatrical experience.

In the words of a generous shop-assistant, “Thanks very much.”