George Bernard Shaw makes a seldom-seen and very welcome visit to the London Fringe this January with Wilmington Theatre Company’s vibrant production of Overruled, a trio of his lesser-known short comedies. Fast-paced, insightful and littered with guffaw-inducing one-liners, the plays give a delightful insight into the playwright’s wittier, more daring side.
How He Lied to Her Husband, concerning a book of passionate love poetry that falls into the wrong hands with surprising consequences, Overruled, examining the extra-marital relations between two different couples whilst on holiday and Village Wooing, tracing an unlikely relationship starting on a cruise ship and blossoming in a village store, fit very well together, the controversial (if not unspeakable, in Shaw’s day) issues they explore making for a modern and relevant slant. The battle of the sexes, role reversals, adultery, skewed morals and wife-swapping are just some of the themes thrown into focus as the company work competently through each extended sketch.
Polina Kalinina’s direction is intelligent and slick, ensuring perfect pace and mood throughout whilst Emma Bailey’s simple yet sophisticated set design provides the necessary adaptability for the transitions between plays. The whole company provide consistently excellent acting, but particularly worthy of mention are Leo Wyndham, who makes swapping from nervous, naive idealism to arrogant swagger look easy and Lucy Hough who really shines in the final piece as the canny, self-assured young shop assistant who becomes master of her own destiny and exposes the fragility and shortcomings of her male counterpart.