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Chesterton Play Has Legs

In the nation's capital, the Washington Stage Guild production of G.K. Chestertons play Magic has been extended through Feb. 6a happy outcome for a work that isnt produced often in the United States. I managed to catch the show the other day, and found it witty, atmospheric and affecting. The ideas and aphorisms sure do fly by at a mile a minute: Reportedly written at the suggestion of Chestertons pal George Bernard Shaw, the script feels very much like a piece Shaw would have written had Shaw been a believer. Some of my favorite passages are speeches by the Anglican rector character, who at one point says, during an argument that touches on rationalism, faith, and a visiting conjurer's party tricks:

Why should sham miracles prove to us that real Saints and Prophets never lived? There may be sham magic and real magic also.There may be turnip ghosts precisely because there are real ghosts. There may be theatrical fairies precisely because there are real fairies. You do not abolish the Bank of England by pointing to a forged bank-note.

While at the theater I also learned that the contemporary science fiction and fantasy author Neil Gaiman has called Chesterton a huge influence on his writing career. Who knew?

About the Author

Celia Wren is Commonweal’s media and stage critic.

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