… pre-vintage Shaw …  

Shaw’s early play, The Philanderer of 1893, is a romantic comedy that’s as focused on the ideas of Henrik Ibsen as it is on love, and with good reason:  for Shaw ideas and love were equally suffused with eros.

Shaw saw Ibsen’s A Doll’s House five times around 1893 and this iconic drama was revelatory, bringing him to the possibility of a theater of ideas.  And, with his comic bent, and awareness of the pitfalls of stern moralizing, Shaw sought a humorous way to explore Ibsen’s theme of the independent woman.  This led him in The Philanderer to comic exaggerations which today to me seem dated, though when the play was first produced, they may have seemed fresh and provocative.  As a gauge of that, the Pearl’s program tells us that  “…due to strict censorship … it was not performed on the stage until 1902.”

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