Triad Stage’s production of “Arms and the Man” by George Bernard Shaw has been up and running since September 11, and I finally got the chance to go see it. This was my first live theater production in quite some time, so I went in with hoping to be impressed, and did not come out disappointed.
The play itself was a pure delight, as one could only expect from a Bernard Shaw comedy. Even though it was written over a hundred years ago, “Arms and the Man’s”critique of its character’s empty values and romanticized view of war are still relevant themes today’s culture. Director Preston Lange succeeded in producing a show that is clever, charming, and highly entertaining.
All of the actors portrayed their characters extremely well. Blair Busbee gives an exceptional performance as Raina in a beautifully sparkling gown that glistened as she haughtily flipped it about the stage. Donovan Wayne Christie Jr was also particularly impressive as he brought enormous energy to Sergius. But Jose Joaquin Perez was the one who captured the stage as Captain Bluntschli with his deliberate speech and honest expressions.
One of the most thrilling parts about a live production is the air of authenticity that comes with it. In person, you can actually see the spit and sweat flying off the actors and feel their intensity as they perform, something you don’t get with mediums such as film. No two performances are really alike, which really makes each performance a little more personal. What’s particularly great about the Triad Stage’s setup is that the seating is so intimate and close to the action that there’s this feeling that if you only stretched out your arm, you would be able touch the actors and join in on the production.
There’s also this sense of electricity. I always feel a bit nervous for the actors and actresses because anything could go wrong. Especially with “Arms and the Man”, since Beth Ritson’s character carried around a small dog the entire time. I kept waiting for him to jump out of her arms and run toward the audience, which of course never happened. The cute puppy, and all the other actors, stayed in character the whole time.
As director Preston Lange pointed out in his Director’s notes, something that Triad Stage tries to incorporate in their productions is authenticity. They seek to honor the truth of a play without giving into preconceived rules or airs about how it is expected to be put on. Triad Stage attempts to treat all their productions as if they are brand new and have never been done before.
Triad Stage also has a close relationship with UNCG. They’ve been working to create more opportunities for both undergrad and graduate students to help bridge that often terrifying gap between education and the profession. Caity Brewer and Daniel Jenkins, who are both UNCG students, had their Triad Stage debut with “Arms and the Man”. Caity, who played the seductive and feisty Louka, was particularly impressive. She definitely held her own against the more experienced actors around her.
“Arms and the Man” reminded me why live productions are so fun. I have to say that I don’t really know why I went so long without going to any, but my love for theater has officially been rekindled. It was a much needed refreshing break after an especially busy week.
The actors’ portrayals of the characters were spot on. The effects and costuming were beautiful and convincing. It was just an all-around great production that actually made me laugh out loud a few times. You still have a chance to go see it, the show will continue to play through October 2. I’d highly recommend everyone take the time to go out and see Triad Stage’s production of “Arms and the Man”.