Shaw was not a fan of marriage, "Marriage is tolerable enough in its way if you're easygoing and don't expect too much from it. But it doesn't bear thinking about." He was critical of England's restrictive divorce laws around the turn of the centure, "Why should we be held together whether we like it or not," and saw no reason why children should be a reason for a couple to be shackled in marriage "slavery."
"Getting Married" introduces us to Bishop and Alice Bridgenorth (Mark Abels, Eleanor Mullin), that day to marry off Edith, their fifth of five daughters. Showing up for the fest are caterer and town Alderman, Collins (Bob Harvey), and the Bishop's two brothers; Boxer (an army general whose love for Lesbia, Alice's sister, remains unrequited as she refuses to marry him for many reasons, including she doesn't like the habits of men) (Garrett Bergfeld), and Reginald (who beat his 30-years-younger wife, the flighty Leo, just so she could have a legitimate reason to divorce him to seek another man) (David Gibbs). Joining in is St. John Hotchkiss (Chuck Brinkley), Leo's "other man" who proudly declares the reasons he is a class "snob."
Cecil the bridegroom (Danny Grumich) arrives to say he's no longer keen on marriage if he would have to be financially liable for any legal misdeeds of his wife, and bride Edith (Rachel Wylder) agrees they shouldn't marry if she couldn't divorce Cecil if she felt she should. She also shocks the room when declaring she wants to be paid to be a housewife, and also be paid for any children she might produce. When it is proposed they enter into a legal "arrangement" rather than a church-sanctioned marriage, the Bishop's chaplain, Father Anthony (Joe O'Connor), a former solicitor (lawyer), is called upon to draft the contract, which, because of the various amendments, clauses, and variations, he is unable to do.
The second act of the play was perplexing to me because the situations set up in the first act appear to be set aside, and a number of Huh? subplots involving the town's Mayoress, Mrs. Collins (she writes the Bishop love notes and goes into trances) (Suzanne Greenwald), and St. John (he is inexplicably infatuated with Mrs. Collins even though she's married) seemed to drain the focus from the play. At the end, it appears Edith and Cecil did marry, but only after they obtained an insurance policy making Cecil not liable for any legal misdeeds of his wife. Edith's concerns about divorce and payment for being married seemed to disappear.
The cast, under the direction of Anita Lippman, appear to do what they can with the material, but the night seemed very low-key, and the humor a bit too dry. It needed some kind of spark to get things moving. Too, the plot variations in the second act had me scratching my head in puzzlement.
The in-the-round set was appointed with comfortable chairs, tables, and rugs, and lighting (Michael Sullivan) seemed suited to the action. I found the costumes (Lisa Haselhorst) to be a highlight, with nice period details and expert tailoring.
"Getting Married" ran 2 hours 25 minutes, with a 15-minute intermission. It will run in the Fine Arts Theatre on the campus of Fontbonne University through June 23. For more information on this production and "Charley's Aunt," running in repertory with "Getting Married," see http://actincstl.com/