‘Misalliance’ a delightful takedown of society


The comedy pokes good fun at notions of romantic love, while addressing issues of what it means to behave as a gentleman or lady should.

The prospect of spending an evening in 1909 might sound stifling to twenty-first century sensibilities, but the Mary Moody Northen Theatre’s (MMNT) production of “Misalliance” makes an evening spent in the home of the Tarleton family a delight.

Director Robert Tolaro’s decision to introduce each character through narration scripted as stage direction provided the audience with an insight to the witty writing of George Bernard Shaw. This choice helped to facilitate the audience’s experience of the jokes and the play’s ostentatious satire.

Freshman Melli West described the play as “the perfect kind of funny.”

The story follows crisscrossing romances in the home of the middle-class Tarleton family, whose daughter Hypatia, played by senior Aly Jones, is engaged to the aristocrat, Bently Summerhays, portrayed by junior Trey Stoker.

The play’s title, “Misalliance,” refers to the scandal of new money and the middle class mating with an old aristocratic family in early twentieth century Britain. The comedy pokes good fun at notions of romantic love, while addressing issues of what it means to behave as a gentleman or lady should.

In his portrayal of the overly sensitive Bently, Stoker does an excellent job of playing the victim to the “oaf” Johnny Tarleton, played by junior Ryan Mattingly.

The chemistry between Stoker and Mattingly had the audience in stitches as they reminded them how devastating living as the runt of the litter –either intellectually or physically – can be to one’s worldview.

The detail work of the cast was vital considering how each character is strong and acts as if they are the center of the world within the play.

Jones, who played the ever-bored and adventure-seeking Hypatia, mastered the subtlety needed to be at once the center of attention and yet also a forgotten character.

Professional actor David Stahl furthered Jones’ comedy through his own matter-of-fact, self-centered portrayal of Hypatia’s father.

Society is still grappling with issues of parent-child relationships defined by generational gaps, and societal expectations tied to femininity and masculinity. The over-the-top caricatures of masculine and feminine characters of “Misalliance” make the social commentary clear, while providing the audience with many occasions to laugh at adventure dropping out of the sky where it is most unwelcome.

“He wanted a deconstruction of society and he put it in his plays,” said Maureen Fenninger, who plays Lina Szczepanowska, a Polish daredevil, in the play.