globeinteractive.com: Making the Business of Life Easier

   Finance globeinvestor   Careers globecareers.workopolis Subscribe to The Globe
The Globe and Mail/globeandmail.com
Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels


[an error occurred while processing this directive]

  This site      Tips

  

  The Web Google

  





  Where to Find It


Breaking News
  Home Page

  Report on Business

  Sports

  Technology


Read and Win Contest


Print Edition
  Front Page

  Report on Business

  National

  International

  Sports

  Arts & Entertainment

  Editorials

  Columnists

  Headline Index

 Other Sections
  Appointments

  Births & Deaths

  Books

  Classifieds

  Comment

  Education

  Environment

  Facts & Arguments

  Focus

  Health

  Obituaries

  Real Estate

  Review

  Science

  Style

  Technology

  Travel

  Wheels

 Leisure
  Cartoon

  Crosswords

  Food & Dining

  Golf

  Horoscopes

  Movies

  Online Personals

  TV Listings/News

 Specials & Series
  All Reports...



Services
  Where to Find It
 A quick guide to what's available on the site

 Newspaper
  Advertise

  Corrections

  Customer Service

  Help & Contact Us

  Reprints

  Subscriptions

 Web Site
  Advertise

  E-Mail Newsletters

  Free Headlines

  Help & Contact Us

  Make Us Home

  Mobile New

  Press Room

  Privacy Policy

  Terms & Conditions


GiveLife.ca

    

His Majesty
Court House Theatre
By Harley Granville Barker, 1928
Directed by Neil Munro


Play summary | Globe and Mail review

From the program:

The play begins in the early 1920s in a large house in Zurich, the home-in-exile of Henry XIII of Carpathia, who has lost his throne in the political aftermath of World War I. Waiting to interview him is an American newspaperman, freshly arrived from the Carpathian capital of Karlsburg. The country there is still in upheaval, he says, the new government unsteady, and the city full of intrigue and rumour. And one of the rumours - the one he's come to ask about - is that the King is on his way back to Carpathia to support an insurrection led by the young Count Stephen Czernyak. As it turns out, the King does make the dangerous journey across Europe, but it is not to support the Count.

The Globe and Mail's review:

Carpathian capers
space
By KATE TAYLOR
Wednesday, July 10, 2002 Print Edition, Page R4

Rating: **

Harley Granville Barker's His Majestywas the dark horse of the 2002 playbill at the Shaw Festival, a forgotten 1923 script by a difficult playwright that only made its debut in Britain, and to very mixed reviews, in 1992 and has never been seen in North America. It certainly doesn't emerge a clear winner in a Canadian premiere subtly directed by Neil Munro at the Court House Theatre, but it runs a race rich in incident.

The play is set after the First World War in the fictional European country of Carpathia, where the exiled King (David Schurmann) has returned, hoping to lead his nation out of civil war and toward good government without shedding a drop of blood. The story is inspired by the history of Charles I, last of the Hapsburg emperors, but has unfortunate overtones of those 1930s musical movies set in make-believe Balkan states where people with silly accents goose-step about in dress uniform.

Munro is careful to treat the humour in the script for what it really is -- quiet irony -- but still can't resist a bit of funny business with faulty pens in a scene where the King and various functionaries are signing an armistice.

Meanwhile, the play's plot takes the form of a political thriller as the nominal Carpathian government led by one Madrassy (Michael Ball) schemes against the King while the hotheaded monarchist rebel Stephen Czernyak pesters him to accept the might of his loyal soldiers. Once you realize it doesn't matter that you don't know where Zimony is, didn't catch that last general's name and can't quite follow the King's reasons for returning to Carpathia in the first place, the intrigue becomes engrossing.

But Barker's point is more serious. He is returning to the theme he addressed in plays such as Waste and The Secret Life, showing the difficulty of integrity amid the complexities of politics and business. Here, the King insists he will participate in neither violence nor deceit, but those are precisely the terms on which he is offered back his crown.

Over the years, the Shaw Festival, which is now concluding its Barker series begun back in 1988 with The Voysey Inheritance, has successfully revealed the subtlety of this playwright's observations of human character. Here, Lorne Kennedy gently offers the creeping humour of the aide-de-camp who knows his pretensions to position are as ludicrous as his master's, while Sharry Flett gets to work on the gracious realism of the Queen's lady-in-waiting, Countess Czernyak.

But the difficulty with this drama is that the well-intentioned but ineffectual King never faces any serious challenge to his beliefs nor recognizes the danger of his whimsy. In the one scene, where he is offered a devil's bargain, he dismisses it out of hand. The result is too heavy to be satisfying as a thriller, but lacks the climax that would make it some grander drama let alone the moment of reckoning that would turn it to tragedy.

As the King, Schurmann is firm and brisk, which helps an audience through the complex action but finally makes very little of the man's desire to reclaim his crown. In these hands, the character's equanimity about his losses and realism about his future chances come to him far too easily, while his folly is dismissed far too lightly.

Mary Haney's anxious and shrunken version of the embittered Queen, convinced her husband is God's anointed and unable to comprehend their fall from grace, offers a much richer reading of a more interesting character. As she begins to scheme behind his back, her increasingly compromised position proves fascinating. His Majesty, on the other hand, makes integrity look easy and bland, even if the final prize is only exile in Bermuda.
His Majesty runs at the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., until Sept. 21. For information: 1-800-511-7429.
Back to main theatre page



7-Day Site Search
    

Breaking News



Today's Weather


Inside

Michael Posner
Ethnic laugh lines
Jeffrey Simpson
Health care: Do we know better than everyone else?

Paul Knox
The rise of anti-anti-Americanism




space

Editorial Cartoon




Click here for the Editorial Cartoon






Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels
space

© 2003 Bell Globemedia Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Help & Contact Us | Back to the top of this page
[an error occurred while processing this directive]