It would be a mistake to use the Christmas season with all its attendant responsibilities and parties to miss the chance to see Walla Walla Community College's production of "SMASH."
"SMASH," a play by Jeffery Hatcher, is based on George Bernard Shaw's novel, "The Unsocial Socialist." Hatcher has all of Shaw's theatrical gags and complex twists of logic down to a science.
Kevin Loomer, whose stage direction always appeals, has tuned his actors to the play's swift pace of delivery and action.
Jacob Smith, who plays the social anarchist Sidney Trefusis, never allows an opportunity to let the exquisite twists of Shavian logic evade the ear of the audience. In this play, as well as Shaw's book, all the characters struggle to articulate the logic as well as the application of either the Socialist or the Capitalist system.
The play opens when Sidney, who feels victimized by his excessive inherited wealth has just married to the equally wealthy Henrietta Jansenius, played with wit and power by Stacie Trego. He feels he must leave her at the altar because his greater calling is to organize the underclass to rebel against the capitalists, and thus earn its rightful position of respect and authority.
When Sidney disguises himself as a gardener at a girl's school, his goal as a social revolutionary is challenged by a precautious and rebellious student played with gleeful spirit by Erika Graves. So the battle of wits begins.
There isn't a weak performance in this production. The play snaps right along with rapid-fire line delivery that keeps the audience on its toes and keeps the level of giddiness, charm, and farce necessary for Shavian comedy. In short, the actors control the pace and the direction of the play.
It has always seemed to me that Shaw loved and respected his characters. He always seems to understand their ideals and their weaknesses. He knows their humanity.
And that is what we see in this performance by this talented assemblage of actors. They all give us their honesty, and as a result, make themselves endearing to the audience. By the time the play is finished you get the feeling you know these people in a very personal way. And, as in every well produced play, you're not certain whose side you're on. What more can one expect of a performance?
See SMASH. It will be your best Christmas present.