Shaw Festival 2008
Written by Githa Sowerby
Directed by Jackie Maxwell
Starring Claire Jullien and Blair Williams
Court House Theatre until Oct. 4
Actor Blair Williams was very pleased when his curtain call received a chorus of “Boos!” because he portrays an absolute bounder in Githa Sowerby’s 1924 play The Stepmother. The production is another winner in Shaw Festival artistic director Jackie Maxwell’s quest to unearth lost women playwrights.
In Sowerby’s provocative story, the stepmother, played brilliantly by Claire Jullien, is the good guy. The bad guy is her husband, a truly slimy Williams, who marries the young women only for her modest fortune, and then lives off her when she opens a successful couturier house, sacrificing his own and everyone else’s money along the way. The ending comes down to Lois’ relationship with her stepchildren.
Maxwell has directed a must-see production, particularly for the troubling questions it raises about the role of women. The play is a triumph for everyone concerned, both on stage and off. It is near theatrical perfection.
The Stepmother continues at the Court House Theatre until Oct. 4.