The Old Red Lion in Angel is among a handful of pub theatres in London that punches above it weight. Mercury Fur last year featured on my favourite plays of 2012 list and transferred to the Trafalgar Studios so expectations for the latest offering, a trio of short plays by George Bernard Shaw were high.
Love and marriage connects the three plays thematically with Shaw taking a mischievously satirical stance.
In the first play, How He Lied To Her Husband, a wife's affair with a young lover has been exposed by her husband's discovery of his rivals love poems but his reaction isn't quite what you'd expect. The second, Overruled, continues in a similar vein and also involves the discovery of an affair but deals more with the practicalities of marriage vs the sentiment.
Village Wooing, the final play, sees a shift, examining the reasons to marry through a chance encounter on a cruise ship.
The joy of these Shaw plays is in how he looks at things askew, turning the tables on common perceptions and stereotypes. His women are generally level-headed and practical when it comes to love and marriage while the men are passionate beasts ruled by their emotions, easily ruffled and possessive.
The advantage of three short plays is that if one isn't quite working for you there isn't long to wait for the next one. Naturally I have my personal favourite of the three; Overruled was the sharpest and made me laugh the most, helped by the fact that the actors had got over their initial nerves and had relaxed into their performances. (@polyg's favourite was different but then isn't that the way?) Not that there were any bum notes because taken as a whole this makes for thoroughly fun and entertaining evening at the theatre.
Nice double connection with Mr W to start off the year, Jim Creighton who is in two out of the three Shaw plays was in The Tempest with Ralph Fiennes (Skyfall) and Flare Path with Sienna Miller (Layer Cake).
* Eagle-eyed Poly has pointed out that there is a direct connection with Jim as he was in The Hour *