Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fanny's First Play

Fanny's First Play is actually a play by Bernard Shaw. I saw it last night and found it quite charming.

The play features a play-within-a-play, a device Shakespeare used several times, most famously in Hamlet.

In Shakespeare, the play-within is a brief presentation within a full length framing play. Not so in this case. Shaw's play-within is actually a full length play, and the framing play is much shorter.

In the frame, a young lady named Fanny has written her first play, and has arranged for it to be performed before a private audience of theater critics. Her play is performed, and then the critics argue about it. One thing they argue about is who actually wrote the play, since they haven't been told.

Of course, Fanny is just a character, and the person who really wrote it all was Shaw himself.

But the original audiences of the play did not know that. Because Shaw, who was already famous, had the play produced as being by that most accomplished author: Anonymous. And, in a dizzying bit of satire, Shaw has his critics decide that the play could not have been written by Shaw, because it has too much heart.

The production is a lot of fun. The dialog is witty, and the acting was solid. Michael Reyes, as Juggins, was a particular straight-faced comic delight.

This dramatic framing device
is occasionally nice
but could be un-concise.

If you keep nesting play within play
like Russian dolls all the way
it might run all night and all day.

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