One of Shaw’s first commercial successes, “Arms and the Man” was first produced at London’s Avenue Theatre in spring 1894. The title is taken from the opening line of Virgil’s “Aeneid,” Arma virumque cano (Of arms and the man I sing). It tells the tale of a young Bulgarian lady named Raina Petkoff, whose fiance is an officer in the Serbo-Bulgarian War of 1885.
Raina is a romantic young girl who has an overly idealistic view of war. She is engaged to Sergius, a handsome ineffectual young officer with an equally romantic attitude towards war. In the first act an escaping enemy soldier, Bluntschli, breaks into Raina’s bedroom. He is a practical sort and tries to convince her of the realities of war. It makes more sense to carry choclates than ammunition he tells her. She lets him escape; clearly she has become attracted to him. In the second act the soldiers return and bring with them Bluntschli who has helped them in moving their armies, since as a pragmatist, he is willing to fight for whichever side pays. Now he has to deal with the romantic Sergius for the love of Raina.
Arms and the Man is one of Shaw’s most popular plays. Though it was written in 1894, its theme is highly contemporary. A gentle but firm satire, Arms and the Man lampoons romantic notions of love and war.
Directed by Linda Beattie with cast Jodine Muir, Denise Kitching, Angeline Andrews, Amrik Tumber, Nicholas Gledhill, Ross Scott, Will Reilly.
ARMS AND THE MAN is playing the Depot Theatre, 142 Addison Road, Marrickville between September 21 and 24. All shows start at 8 pm.
For more about Arms and the Man, visit http://ticketing.sydneyfringe.com/fringe/index.html?event/arms_and_the_man/057b27ae-9cde-48ef-bc62-dc9f2e9fb7ff/
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