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WHAT: "Fanny's First Play"

WHEN: Opens Thursday and continues in repertory through Sept. 22

WHERE: Court House Theatre, Shaw Festival, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

ADMISSION: $35 to $75 (Canadian funds)

INFO: (800) 511-SHAW

Besides the chance to be very funny, "Fanny's First Play" gave playwright George Bernard Shaw the opportunity to create a sexually liberated young woman who gets to express all the ultramodern suffragette attitudes in an anonymous play. In this relatively early work - it was written in 1911 - a wealthy Irish count, as a birthday present, gives his daughter Fanny a private performance of her first play. It almost kills him. Fanny, who the count thought was safe from radical ideas at Cambridge, is quite the free-thinker. The play-within-a-play allows Shaw to wildly skewer middle-class morals by putting the radical ideas in the mouth of this unrestrained young woman. Then, because the count also arranged to bring in four prominent London critics, Shaw has the additional pleasure of knocking about the judgments of these distinguished gentlemen as they try to figure out who wrote this burning bit of stagecraft. As Shaw said himself, the play is "really amusing - considering who wrote it."

In the Shaw Festival production Fanny will be played by Severn Thompson and the count by David Schurmann. Todd Hammond will direct. The cast includes William Vickers, George Dawson, Jeff Meadows, Todd Witham, Christopher Blake, Caroline Cave, Peter Krantz and Nora McLellan, among others.

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