At The Utah Shakespearean Festival in Cedar City, George Bernard Shaw's "You Never Can Tell" is a madcap adventure that examines love, marriage, courtship, social station and the changing role of women in society. It's set around the turn of the last century. We open in the elegantly appointed dental office of Mr. Valentine. There's frilly blue and gold wallpaper, with dark wood trim. A big mirror with a wood frame is at the rear, along with two tall windows with filly lace and drapes. The proscenium arch looks like some old houses with a gable, clock, and gingerbread design.
The play opens with Valentine pulling Dolly's tooth. It's his first tooth and he holds it up in triumph. Her twin brother Philip arrives and the action heats up when they invite Valentine to lunch. The twins are young airheads and they propel the action forward with their energy, throughout the play. Dolly sure does talk a lot for someone who has just had a tooth out, and Philip comments on their "unimproved minds." Their older sister Gloria is the one with the "improved mind." She takes after their mother, "The famous Mrs. Clandon, author of social reform treatises." She separated from her husband when the children were very young, and has no need for a husband. The children are all distressed because they don't know who their father is, and are excluded from certain social situations because of it. Valentine falls hopelessly in love with Gloria when she arrives with their mother. Valentine's landlord, Mr. Crampton appears, has a toothache, and bets Valentine his six weeks back rent if the Doctor can extract the tooth painlessly. He does, and he's also invited to lunch by the exuberant twins.
The scene shifts to a gaudy seaside cafe. The multicolored door and window are trimmed purple and green, with a chartreuse design around the top. Here's where the fun really starts, as everyone discovers the disagreeable Crampton is really the childrens' father. The twins are thrilled, Crampton less so. Richard Elmore's Crampton behaves like a bear, growling and snarling, while the children redicule him. When he says he's 57, they shoot back "You look it!" He quarrels with Gloria over her name, and the whole event is held together by A. Bryan Humphrey's perfect waiter, Walter Boon. He tells Crampton "It's the unexpected that always happens," and every time things fly apart, he pulls it into perspective with his stories of his son the lawyer and his motto, "You Never Can Tell, Sir." After the others leave, Gloria is left with Valentine, who tells her "It's not love. It's chemistry." He uses his own intellect to subdue hers. He calls her "A feminine prig." She denies it, but says she's not in the least offended. Finally he grabs her and kisses her as they fall madly in love.
The last Act is set an opulent parlor. There's a mahogany fireplace with a schooner on it, in front of a Monet like seascape. The doors are cut glass with floral stained glass above. When Valentine enters, the twins walk in a circle around him. They have told their mother about how he and Gloria are in love. The twins walk out, close the glass doors, then turn and plant themselves squarely in front of them, looking in, before they turn and exit. Saying "This family is no place for a father," Crampton demands custody of the twins, and the matter is left for the London lawyer Bohun to decide.
Following the masked ball, Bohun enters the parlor, and takes off his mask. The waiter comes apart when he recognizes his son. After all, a lawyer can't have a waiter for a father! Once this situation is rectified, Bohun takes control. He bullies everyone as he points out that "There's no problem with the difficult question; the trivial ones are the hard ones." After Gloria and Valentine fight, they kiss and make up as Gloria announces their impending marriage. Valentine falls backward into a chair, as the waiter reassures him about his own marriage. Everyone is reconciled and all ends happily in this outstanding production of George Bernard Shaw's "You Never Can Tell." It contiunues in The Randall Theater through Sept. 4 at The Utah Shakespearean Festival in Cedar City.