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Some of the bluntest political satire and drollest romantic comedy in town is to be found in a 65-year-old play by George Bernard Shaw. Written in 1928 when its author was in his 70s, Shaw's last popular success is rarely performed in America, where its target--the tensions inherent in a democratic monarchy--may be deemed a bit rarefied. But this portrait of an idealistic, rhetoric-prone ruler who's loyal but not faithful to his wife, and the governmental gridlock created by his power struggle with a bitterly temperamental parliamentary leader, is apt enough in the Clinton-Dole era; so are its cautionary comments on the fragility of freedom in a society where politics has become "the refuge of a few fanciers of public speaking and party intrigue," leaving an apathetic public in the irresponsible hands of big business and media monopolies. Andrew Callis directs a mostly-Equity ensemble of skilled, seasoned local actors in this offbeat script, whose emphasis on words over action is well fitted to the program's staged-reading format; the production launches a welcome season of city-sponsored Shaw readings. Chicago Cultural Center, studio theater, 78 E. Washington (enter at 77 E. Randolph), 744-7648. Through September 26: Sundays, 3 PM; Mondays, 7 PM. Free.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Taylor Boyle.

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