One might be forgiven for anticipating reams of social commentary on a variety of 19th century topics — ranging from socialism to women's rights to class warfare — from a George Bernard Shaw comedy.
And while "Misalliance," the season opener at South Coast Repertory, contains all these things in a package approaching three hours, it also packs a punch. Director Martin Benson, a veteran of Shavian staging, has infused the production with two essential elements, volume and animated energy, that make those three hours pass rapidly.
"Misalliance" was written a full 100 years ago, yet the SCR rendition comes across the footlights with a 21st century immediacy, thanks to Benson's minutely creative direction and a top-notch cast. The dialogue is not only declaimed, it's hammered into place with a vengeance.
Shaw placed his action in the spacious solarium belonging to a blustery millionaire, who gained his fortune manufacturing men's underwear, and whose dissatisfied daughter is being courted by the wimpiest kid on the block. Others drop in — some literally, from the sky — and stir a delicious confection of words, wisdom and wackiness.