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Bernard Shaw invites you! - Brighton Fringe Review by Sophie Turton

Bernard Shaw Invites You!, Company: P M Productions
Venue: Redroaster Coffee House, Category: Theatre
9-10 May 20:00 £10 (£8) [2hrs]

This highly intelligent one man play, devised and performed by Brighton-based Irish actor, Paddy O’Keefe and directed by Martin Nichols, takes us on a tour of the life and mind of one of history’s most influential thinkers and introduces a whole new dimension to the incredible Bernard Shaw.

It is June 2nd, 1946 - George Bernard Shaw’s 90th birthday. We are his guests, listening intently to his life reflections that are guided by questions from an unseen interviewer. This framing technique is perfect for the play’s structure, allowing O’Keefe to play himself at the beginning and dissolving into Shaw for the rest of the duration, seizing the opportunity of a lifetime to finally ask his hero all he had always wanted to know.

The play aims to discover something of the ‘Shaw behind the mask’ and explores what O’Keefe, through extensive research, deems to be Shaw’s most intimate and, at times, delicate thoughts. How enchanting it is to watch one in such awe of the mind of another take on their thoughts and characteristics with such ease. O’Keefe becomes Shaw, so much so that it is at times impossible to untangle Shaw’s own language from the lines devised for the performance.

The audience is guided through Shaw’s life. We see him as a small boy, witness his raw fear and confusion over his parent’s disinterest and neglect. We share with him the joy of self-discovery, of love and lust and longing and we laugh, as he does, at the jokes he tells.

O’Keefe’s Shaw is, at times, arrogant, as the real Shaw was sure to be, but with it he is honest and endearing. Together they are a natural storyteller, moving through ninety years of history like an elegant waltz, bringing other characters in and flinging them out, while seamlessly retaining the audience’s attention.

There is little action in the play, which mirrors that of Shaw’s great works. Instead the purpose is to explore the heart and mind of the characters and to bring them alive in the imaginations of the audience. Bernard Shaw Invites You! is an incredible achievement and to answer Bernard Shaw’s final question, yes, it is certainly worth it.

Sophie Turton - follow on Twitter @TurtonSophie
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