Winnipeg Jewish Review  
Site Search:
Home  |  Archives  |  Contact Us
Features Local Israel Next Generation Arts/Op-Eds Editorial/Letters Links Obituary/In Memoriam

Daniel Thau-Eleff

Review of "My Affair With George Bernard" by Daniel Thau-Eleff

Jane Enkin, posted Feb 9, 2012

Doreen Brownstone and Ross McMillan know how to make a staged play-reading a fully embodied, engaging work of theatre. In this debut of Winnipeg writer Daniel Thau-Eleff's new play, they created fascinating portraits of Florence Farr and George Bernard Shaw

Florence Farr, actress, novelist, and spiritualist, sits in Shaw's study and begins a seance. She explains to the audience that given the right conditions and patience, a spirit will respond to an invitation to appear. Now and then she lifts her head and casts her eyes about the room, searching for George, calling for George.

George is revealed as a vividly recalled memory. Fluidly, the play shifts back and forth between Florence's storytelling and her interactions with Shaw himself. She remembers meeting the playwright, rehearsing with him, developing a complex and loving relationship with him – with intellectual exchange, arguments, and quiet pleasure. The fact that there is no strong explanation of why they parted adds to the wistfulness of the play, as does Florence's account of their tenuous connection over the following years. The characters share delicate emotion and mutual admiration, each staunchly standing up for the other's independence.

Thau-Eleff includes some quotations from Shaw's letters, but the script is built largely of invented lines and re-imagined events. It was fun to watch the characters rehearse scenes from several of Shaw's plays – with interruptions as Shaw critiqued Florence's line-readings and Florence paused to reminisce. The effect is a seamless whole, very funny and very tender, with strong respect for both characters.

Ross McMillan played a stiff and proper George. His dry delivery earned lots of laughter, and the moments when Shaw was unsure of himself, or briefly expressive of strong feelings, were compelling.

I'll run out of words to praise Doreen Brownstone. Her voice is supple, deep and beautiful, her face tells so much with a simple glance or slight frown, her movement is graceful and energetic. She got laughs often without a word, or with a simple response to one of Shaw's many effusive outpourings. It was a treat to watch as she layered on top of her already dramatic presence the characters she acted in Shaw's plays.

Since My Affair with George Bernard is a work in progress, I'll mention two critiques. The brief snatches of song did not seem a good fit to me; I couldn't see how they added to my knowledge of Florence. There are a few didactic statements of fact in the play, some as Florence describes her position as a “New Woman”, some as the characters tell the audience about things that happened after the friendship cooled. I found these elements distracting – perhaps the information could be offered in a more personal way; otherwise I'd rather find it in an author's note in the program.

This is a lovely play, and a moving and beautiful production.


<<Previous Article       Next Article >>
Subscribe to the Winnipeg Jewish Review
  • Jewish Federation of Winnipeg
  • Fillmore Riley
  • Jewish Federation of Winnipeg
  • Winter's Collision Repair
  • Gray Academy
  • Jacqueline Simkin
  • Coughlin Insurance
  • Joyce Rykiss
  • CHW
  • The J Hansen HVAC Group
  • Munroe Pharmacy
  • The Lazareck Family
  • Imperial Soap
  • GTP
  • Piston Ring
  • Nick's Inn
  • Lori Shenkarow
  • Roseman Corp.
  • Tyler Bucklaschuk
  • TD Canada Trust
  • Josef Ryan
  • Sobey's
  • Daniel Friedman and Rob Dalgliesh
  • The Lipkin Family
  • Booke and Partners
  • Bruce Shefrin Interior Design
  • Fair Service
  • Daien Denture Clinic
  • Thovaldson Care
  • Laufman Reprographics
  • Amalgamated Drywall Systems Ltd.
  • Maric Homes
  • Artista Homes
  • Tradesman Mechanical
  • Accurate Lawn & Garden
  • Ronald B. Zimmerman
  • Commercial Pool
  • Lanny Silver
  • Fetching Style
  • Rudy Fidel
  • Shindico
  • Dakota Chiropractic Office
  • Myrna Driedger
  • Shirley and Bob Freedman
  • The Chisick Family
  • Carol and Barry McArton
  • The Shinewald Family
  • Dr. Ted and Harriet Lyons
  • Munroe Dental Centre
  • Ixtapa Travel
  • Hill Sokalski Walsh
  • D'arcy and Deacon
  • The Charach Family
  • Esther and Sid Halpern
  • Myers LLP
  • The Lazar Family
  • Dr. Marshall Stitz
  • Cavalier Candies
  • Cdn Visa
  • Kowall Chiropractic Centres
  • Dr. Brent Schacter
  • Doheny Securities
  • Ambassador Mechanical
  • Peerless Garments
  • Pitblado
  • Cindy Lamoureux
  • HUB International
  • Philip Kahanovtich
  • Global Philathropic Canada
  • Sorrento's
  • Taverna Rodos
  • Aziza Family
  • Western Scrap Metals
  • Cascade Financial Group Inc.
  • James Bezan
  • Larry N. Maguire
  • Malaya Marcelino
  • Candice Bergen
  • Safeway
  • John Orlikow
  • Ross Eadie
  • Orthodox Union
  • Saul Simmonds
  • Bridges for Peace
  • Chochy's
  • City Sheet Metal
  • Superlite
  • Stephen Rosenfield
  • Abe and Toni Berenhait
  • The Lofchick Famiy
  • Stringer Rentals
  • John Wishnowski
  • Ingrid Bennet
  • Winnipeg Board of Jewish Education
  • Asper Jewish Community Campus
  • Jewish Federation of Winnipeg
  • Grant Kurian Trucking
  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • Gulay Plumbing
  • Kristina's
  • West Kildonan Auto
  • The Center for Near East Policy Research Ltd.
  • Sarel Canada
  • Santa Lucia Pizza
  • Center for Near East Policy Research
  • Roofco Winnipeg Roofing
  • Center for Near East Policy Research
  • Nachum Bedein
  • Maric Homes
Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.