Charlie Cousins, Andrea Demetriades and Mitchell Butel. Photo: Grant Sparkes-Carroll.
Sydney Theatre Company presents the George Bernard Shaw classic, Arms and the Man, at Sydney Opera House from 14 September. With a cast featuring Andrea Demetriades, Mitchell Butel, Charlie Cousins, Deborah Kennedy and William Zappa, director Richard Cottrell collaborates with the design team of Michael Scott-Mitchell, Julie Lynch and Damien Cooper to create a fairytale version of 19th century Bulgaria.
As the Serbo-Bulgarian War of 1885 rages, the lovely Raina (Demetriades) is engaged to the gallant and posturing war hero Sergius (Cousins). When a fugitive Swiss soldier, Bluntschli (Butel), abruptly lands in her bedroom, he initially seems threatening. But he quickly reveals he’d prioritise chocolate bullets over real ones any day and Raina, against her will, finds herself falling in love.
George Bernard Shaw’s play takes its title from the opening line of Virgil’s Aeneid – which begins “of arms and the man I sing…” Like Aeneas, Shaw’s Swiss officer is a man wandering away from defeat, but with trademark verbal dexterity, wit and sparkling dialogue, Shaw turns it all on its head.
While ramping up the romance and keeping plenty of room for irony, he creates a playful love story of brilliantly drawn characters, while also poking fun at the vanity, false heroism and supposed nobility of the 19th century battlefield.
14 September to 31 October 2015. Opening: Friday 18 September Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House Box Office: 02 9250 1777. www.sydneytheatre.com.au Tickets from $58 (fees apply) . Insight Events: Pre-season Briefing: Mon 7 Sep 6.15 pm, Wharf 2 Theatre Night with the Actors: Mon 28 Sep post-show, Mon 19 Oct post-show.