George Bernard Shaw's The Philanderer is very popular in the Bay Area. The great playwright's look at gender roles and commitment has sold out its final performances, ending Oct. 15 at the Aurora Theatre of Berkeley, California. This continuation of the company's foray into the works of Shaw opened Sept. 14 after beginning performances Sept. 8. Aurora artistic director Barbara Oliver directs.
In The Philanderer, Shaw introduces Leonard Charteris, a philosophizing bachelor committed to remaining uncommitted. Believing that only conventional people chose marriage, Leonard happily forms "charming friendships" with the ladies around him -- until he meets a different kind of woman, who proudly declares herself no man's property. In her, Charteris finds his greatest challenge and possibly his mate for life. Proportedly, Shaw based The Philanderer on an incident from his own life.
The Aurora has already staged two of Shaw's "unpleasant plays" (Widower's Houses, Mrs. Warren's Profession) and one of the "pleasant plays" (Candida), taken from his 1898 collection, "Plays, Pleasant and Unpleasant." In 1925, his Saint Joan won the Nobel Prize for literature. Shaw is also known for penning Arms and the Man and Man and Superman.
The Philanderer features Charles Dean, Simon Vance, Jack Powell, Lee Ann Manley, Chris Ayles, Amanda Duarte and Susan-Jane Harrison.
Tickets are $30-$26. The Berkeley City Club is located at 2315 Durant Avenue. For tickets, call (510) 843-4822. The Aurora Theatre Company is on the web at http://auroratheatre.org. Later in the season, the company will also stage Conor McPherson's The Weir.
-- By Christine Ehren