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Rare G.K. Chesterton Staging

Here's something you don't encounter too often in the professional American theater: a full production of a play by G.K. Chesterton. In the nation's capital, the well-regarded Washington Stage Guild is plunging into 2011 with a staging of Chesterton's "Magic," a comedy-of-ideas about an upper-class family that hires a magician for laughs, andends up confronting questions about doubt and faith. According to the company's press release, the play hasn't been staged in the U.S. in decades, though it's never fallen out of favor in England. Alan Wade, who is directing the show for Washington Stage Guild, calls "Magic" "either a light romantic comedy posing as a philosophical debate, or vice-versa, or both" and says parts of it are reminiscent of plays by Noel Coward and George Bernard Shaw. (Washington Stage Guild is known for mounting Shaw's works.)The production isn't running too long, just Jan. 6- Jan. 30, so any Chesterton fans in the area should put it on their calendar soon! I'm going to try to make it the first show I see this year.

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Celia Wren is Commonweal’s media and stage critic.



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Sounds good.For more magic and upper-class comedy: Georgetown Gilbert & Sullivan Society, "America's only theater group with its own law school", will be presenting A Midsummer Night's Dream in February.

I hadn't heard of the play before. The script seems to be available for free on-line (and if it was written in 1913, I think[?] it may legally be considered in the public domain now):

Btw, for Chesterton fans (you know who you are, William C :-)), sneak a glimpse at this stage direction from very early in the play. You don't find this sort of thing in Pinter or Beckett."[The scene appears to fade away, and give place to the milieu of ACT ONE, the Duke's drawing-room, an apartment with open French windows or any opening large enough to show a garden and one house fairly near. It is evening, and there is a red lamp lighted in the house beyond. The REV. CYRIL SMITH is sitting with hat and umbrella beside him, evidently a visitor. He is a young man with the highest of High Church dog-collars and all the qualities of a restrained fanatic. He is one of the Christian Socialist sort and takes his priesthood seriously. He is an honest man, and not an ass.]"

It must have been nice to live in a time when people with very different political views were allowed to respect each other.

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