“You Never Can Tell” tackles battle of the sexes, social mores, and the folly of being human.
Some may recognize George Bernard Shaw as the author of “Pygmalion,” which was famously adapted into the Broadway hit “My Fair Lady.” He is also the author of “Mrs. Warren's Profession,” “Arms and the Man,” “Candida,” “The Devil's Disciple,” “Man and Superman,” and “Major Barbara,” among many others. In the canon of world’s greatest comic playwrights, Shaw holds a place of honor only after Shakespeare and Molière. His hilarious brand of humor and social satire is never more obvious than in Act 1’s 2011-2012 season opener, “You Never Can Tell.”
“The story goes that this play was born of a bet that Shaw couldn’t write a seaside comedy,” says Division Head, John Bell. “Can you imagine anyone betting that a man of such wit and intelligence as Shaw would be unable to write for any genre to which he might set his mind? Well write a seaside comedy he did and what a funny and pertinent play it is.”
Set in an English seaside resort at the tail end of the nineteenth century, the story focuses on Mrs. Clandon and her three children, the precocious young twins Philip and Dolly and a grown daughter and staunch suffragette named Gloria. Upon their arrival at the resort town they encounter Valentine, a handsome but impoverished dentist with whom Gloria is immediately infatuated, a condition that is very much at odds with her independent principles. Meanwhile, her mother discovers that also visiting the resort is her long-banished ex-husband whom her children have never met. The children have no idea who their father is and, through a comedy of errors, end up inviting him to a family lunch. A wise waiter named Walter (most commonly referred to by the characters as "William," because Dolly thinks he resembles Mr. Shakespeare) presides over the ensuing battle of the sexes and dispenses his wisdom with the titular phrase "You Never Can Tell."
“Producing ‘You Never Can Tell’ helps us fulfill our mission to expose our students to great writers, great minds, and great works of literature through the ages,” explains Division Head John Bell. “Surely Shaw is up there with the other great writers in the pantheon of transcendent and timeless storytellers.”
Associate Professor of Theatre, Steven Dennis, directs the production. “‘You Never Can Tell’ is a whipped confection,” says Dennis. “Light and airy, its farcical comedy is, as William-Alan Landes suggested, an elaborate joke. Unlike a sitcom, George Bernard Shaw takes time to craft masterfully three-dimensional characters and weave them into deliciously novel situations. Although based upon comedic archetypes, these characters have heart and from time to time we not only cheer them on, but also ache a little for them. The satirical element which sends up society and gender roles may speak to a twenty-first century audience from an slightly re-positioned perch, but just as loudly, aptly, and hysterically.”
The faculty design team of brings to life a seaside resort at the turn of the century with sets, costumes, and lights designed by Will Neuert, Amy Best, and Elizabeth Elliot, respectively.
The production runs September 28 to October 9 in the Main Stage Theatre of the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts, Center Valley, PA. Performances are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. A talk back with the director and cast is scheduled for Sunday, October 2 following the 2:00 p.m. performance. Tickets are still available for the student matinee on Tuesday, October 4 at 9:45 a.m.
Ticket prices are $20 for adults and $18 for students and seniors on Wednesdays and Thursdays and $24 for adults and $22 for students and seniors on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Subscriptions and group discounts are also available. For tickets or more information, call the Act 1 Box Office at 610-282-3192, or visit Act 1 online.
The Labuda Center is fully accessible and equipped with a listening enhancement system sponsored by The Dexter F. and Dorothy H. Baker Foundation and Schubert Communications, Inc. Special seating is available for our patrons using wheelchairs or requiring other assistance. Please inform the box office of your needs when ordering tickets.
Press Release: Act 1 opens 42nd Season with "Dizziest and Fizziest" George Bernard Shaw Comedy | Posted on: 9/13/2011
For more info:
Tom McNamara, Executive Director of Communications
DeSales University | 2255 Station Avenue | Center Valley, PA 18034
610.282.1100 x1219 | Tom.McNamara@desales.edu