By Nancy Oliveri
George Bernard Shaw’s Too True to be Good, which is receiving a reading this weekend by Southern Tier Actors Read (S.T.A.R.), was first published in 1932 but, according to director Chris Nickerson, has a lot of timely content nearly 90 years later, from airborne illness to war.
Soliloquies — on life, love, religion, parenting and armed conflict — punctuate the plot. The storyline mainly serves as a delivery system for fascinating characters to express themselves: a wealthy but ailing woman, her mother, her doctor, her nurse, the germ that has infected her, a jewel-thieving conspirator, his father and some hapless military personnel. Despite the seriousness of the messages of the play, Shaw, as usual, injects plenty of humor, a lot of it echoing how stupid those who have a larger sense of their own worth can come across to an alert listener.
Attendees of previous S.T.A.R. productions will recognize the format. A narrator — in this case, yours truly — sets the scene. Actors deliver their lines from music stands and open scripts. Familiar S.T.A.R. ensemble members will be back along with a few newer faces.
Of particular note, veteran actor Bill Gorman does double duty as the microbe that made the woman sick and as an elder who is sick himself of the whole thing. S.TA.R. co-founder Judy McMahon is the long-suffering mother of the pallid but pugnacious patient, played by Andrea Gregori. Suzanne Santer Brigham is the opportunistic doctor, Rick Kumpon and Jeanne Graham are funny and odious, by turns, as ex-lovers and kidnapers. Nickerson is the officious, inept Colonel Tallboys, with Barbara Vartanian and Zach Curtis as private and sergeant, respectively.
Performances of the three-act play are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday (March 11 and 12) and at 2 p.m. Sunday (March 13) in the Phelps Mansion ballroom, 191 Court St., Binghamton. Proof of vaccination is required, and masks need to be worn during the performance.
Tickets are $15 and can be obtained by calling the Phelps Mansion at 607-722-4873 or visiting www.phelpsmansion.org.