by Paula Citron
The 1921 play “The Circle” by British writer W. Somerset Maugham is deliciously subversive. The convention of marriage, the role of women and the concept of romantic love are all turned on their proverbial ears.
Thirty years ago, a respectable married woman and mother ran off with her husband’s best friend. Now her son’s wife is contemplating doing the same thing. The crisis situation occurs at the son’s country house when the wayward older couple come for a visit. Also on hand is the cuckolded former husband and father.
Thus, the stage is set for Maugham incisive skewering of moral hypocrisy. “The Circle” is a well-made play that portrays the battle between love versus duty with sophisticated dialogue, clever aphorisms, and intriguing characters. The writer also delights in plot twists and shocking revelations.
Director Neil Munro leads an excellent cast through this sly comedy of manners.
The Circle continues until Oct. 28.
From the Shaw Festival’s Royal George Theatre, I’m Paula Citron, arts reviewer for CLASSICAL 96.3 FM.