Niagara-On-The-Lake, ON's Shaw Festival presents the North American premiere, and only the second production ever, of Harley Granville Barker's The Secret Life, now in previews and opening Aug. 22 at the Court House Theatre.
Set in post World War I England, The Secret Life follows a retired politician as he begins to reconnect with a woman who changed his life. It is through the characters' secret lives that the drama's message of hope and faith is expressed.
Granville-Barker is most recognized for his contributions to the English theatre as an actor, director and critic. He created many leading roles in Shaw's plays, which he also produced, and the two were deeply attached. As a director he was revolutionary. He modernized staging and lighting while simplifying settings, strongly influencing theatre even after his death in 1946. His plays include The Marrying of Ann Leete, The Voysey Inheritance, Waste and The Madras House.
Shaw Festival Resident Director Neil Munro directs The Secret Life, the fifth Granville Barker play produced at Shaw in the past 10 seasons, all directed by Munro. Festival Artistic Director Christopher Newton stars as the disillusioned politician Evan Strowde with Fiona Reid as Joan Westbury, his unattainable love. Also in the cast are Mike Shara as Evan's protege Oliver and Nancy Palk as Evan's loyal sister Eleanor. The production runs through Sept. 27.
Also opening Aug. 22 is the lunchtime theatre production of Sorry Wrong Number, at the Royal George Theatre. Mary Haney stars as a bedridden woman whose crossed telephone lines reveal to her plans for a murder. Dennis Garnhum directs this play that began as a 1940's radio drama and became both a play and a film. Runs through Sept. 22. Still on stage at the Shaw are Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, Lillian Hellman's The Children's Hour and The Two Mrs. Carrolls, which has been extended through Nov. 23.
Tickets for The Secret Life are $32-$65 and $15 for Sorry Wrong Number. For reservations call 1-800-511-7429.
--By Laura MacDonald