Major Barbara

I’m familiar with George Bernard Shaw’s works, but this was my first experience of Major Barbara, his powerful drama about money and morality. It turned out to be a longer play than I’d expected, but the time flew by.

This first-class amateur production from the Tower Theatre Company, directed by Jacqui Marchant-Adams, was superb. With Wildean wit and the kind of pertinent yet complex social commentary you only get with Shaw, the play made me laugh but also question my own values and beliefs. Like every other Shaw play I’ve seen, I was left impressed by how relevant it continues to be.

The cast was superb. Ella Imms was wonderful as the titular character, a daughter of a wealthy family who has devoted her life to the Salvation Army. She undergoes the biggest change in the play as she has to try to reconcile her strong moral views with her father’s profitable yet dubious work as an arms manufacturer. Niall Bishop was also excellent as Andrew Undershaft, whose genial manner and matter-of-fact approach to his business belied the very real harm his products obviously caused. Among the rest of the cast, Gerry Skeens as Lady Britomart and Alex Buckley as Barbara’s intended Adolphus Cusins were standouts, but really, all the cast deserved praise.

The set was simple but effective, comprising a drawing-room, a Salvation Army headquarters and the site of the arms factory. In fact, although this was an amateur production I’m not sure what a professional production could have done better. Definitely recommended.

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