22 THURSDAY, MARCH 13, 2009

Makars cash
in on Shaw's Millionairess

The Millionairess,
performed by the
Edinburgh Makars
Adam House Theatre
www.edinburghnews.com  EVENING NEWS
The Millionairess
MONEY SPINNER: The Millionairess has all the hallmarks of a George Bernard Shaw play
THEATREGREEDY bankers amassing wealth for wealth's sake. An over-bearing dictatorial woman lording it over a gaggle of weak men. And a host of extra-marital affairs. No, not the plot of another Thatcher-era period drama but the surprisingly modern themes from George Bernard Shaw's The Millionairess, given a new lease of life by amateur theatre company, the Makars.

Set in 1936, The Millionairess has all the hallmarks of a typical Bernard Shaw play. Entrenched, immovable class structures, the miserly rich and the generous poor, failed cross-class relationships and mercenary marriages. It's all about money, money, money.

Fast-forward seventy odd years and it's still all about money, money, money.
Untrustworthy bankers, greed, excess and failure: you can find it all here in The Millionairess. No wonder then that with the banking system crashing around them, George Bernard Shaw's prescient line 'you can't trust a bank with your money', drew a wry chuckle from the audience.
Despite the echoes of modernity, the Makars' rendition was true to the original and was well received by the three-quarters full theatre. Played out against the backdrop of a fantastic period set and costume design and all dancing to the tune of jaunty pre-war gramophone music, the effect was like being transported back in time. The dreary greys of the furniture and upholstery clashing nicely with the bright costumes of the richer members of the cast.

This is a wordy play, with lots of subtleties and witty nuances but the Makars kept their audience well. Jo Barrow's Epifania dominated the stage for most of the performance but that was down to the actor's competence as well as Bernard Shaw's characterisation. Barrow's performance was energetic and colourful and her lines were delivered clearly and skilfully despite a few minor hiccups.

The Millionairess is dominated by a single female character but also plays host to several other strong women managing to outmanouvre their men.

Unfortunately, this imbalance was reflected in the acting as the female cast consistently outshone their male counterparts. The exception to the rule was the most down-trodden man of the lot, Epifania's boyfriend – the dandyish Adrian. Like a character straight out of Oscar Wilde, he brightened up every scene with his foppish playfulness and razor-sharp wit. His line: "Why is it that the people who have no money are the ones that know how best to spend it?" could have been lifted straight out of The Importance of Being Earnest. It was so on the button it earned his character a thump.

Violence was another theme that continued to rear its ugly head in this play and for the most part it was the men who were on the receiving end. Epifania's men were slapped, punched, bullied and even thrown down the stairs. Having been a little thrashed onstage tonight by the female cast, the male Makars will surely come out fighting over the weekend.


'It's amazing how relevant the play is'

Your reviewKathleen Lucas, Newington: I used to act with the Makars myself so I know quite a few of the cast. I was really impressed tonight and I thought Jo Barrow was fantastic in the lead role. It's such a wordy play and she hardly missed a beat. It was a great feat of memory and a great performance."
Irene McDougall, Marchmont: "It's amazing how relevant the play still is even though it was written before WW II. We all had a real laugh when they mentioned deceitful, greedy bankers that you shouldn't trust with your money! That is what's great about seeing a play like this coming back into the theatre; it just shows you that things never really change."
Murray Tyrell, Moffat: "I've come all the way from Dumfries to see the play tonight as my friend is helping with the performance. I used to follow, the Makars when I lived in Edinburgh and they always put on a good show-tonight certainly wasn't a disappointment. The acting was fantastic and I'm so pleased to see that the company is still going strong."