George Bernard Shaw’s "Arms and the Man" at the Brown County Playhouse is a witty character driven comedy that puts a pin into the balloons of romantic notions about, idealized love, war and heroism in a nicely acted production directed by Jonathan Michaelsen.
Shaw is the cleverest of playwrights and he’s given us what looks at first sight to be a typical cast for a domestic comedy. Anchoring the show was Michael Farina as the genial henpecked husband, Major Petkoff. Carmen Rae Meyers was a bit strident in the second act, but overall a balanced figure as the wife, who’s the real power in the home. Erik Friedman was the exemplarily self effacing clever servant.
However, from here on the charactes become substantially less typical. They take on a certain independence. Rosalind Rubin at first seems the standard saucy maid, Louka, but shortly her own sense of self and real confidence takes her well beyond the stock character. The charmingly, flightily romantic daughter Raina, P. J. Maske, is unmasked by the fleeing Swiss soldier, Bluntschli, Jeff Grafton. Raina’s financee, the attitudinizingly heroic Major Sergius played with only occasionally baseless gusto by Zachery Spicer actually acquires some understanding of irony. And fnally, that proletarian fleeing Swiss soldier discovers that despite his practicality, he’s the most romantic of the lot.
The Brown County production is rich with three separate settings by I. Christopher Berg, imaginative costumes by Amanda Bailey, varied lighting byt Robert J. Bovard and some very evocative music arranged by David Krueger.
The Brown County Playhouse’s production of "Arms and the Man" plays Wednesday through Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons through July 30th. You can find an interview with actor Michael Farina on our Arts Interviews page .