ARMS AND THE MAN by George Bernard Shaw at Pulse Ensemble Theatre, The Courtyard, 432 W. 42nd Street (thru Aug. 11).
Central Park isn’t the only place in New York city where audiences can sit under the stars, feel the summer evening breeze and see classic theater. The admirable Pulse Ensemble Theatre, located on the south side of West 42nd Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues, is currently presenting a richly enjoyable production of George Bernard Shaw’s sprightly 1894 romantic comedy, “Arms and the Man,” in its comfortable courtyard space, with microphones hanging like fruit from the branches of the city trees.
Sitting in the appealing and cozy stage-and-audience area, ivy-walled and flagstone-floored, you are, at one and the same time, a few yards from crosstown traffic, and a million miles from the city, or, to be precise, in “a small town near the Dragoman Pass, in Bulgaria,” as Shaw wished.
“Arms and the Man” is considerably briefer and less weighty even than others among Shaw’s comedies, ‘Misalliance” and “Man and Superman,” to cite just two examples of enjoyable plays in which the prickly Dublin-born author couldn’t resist a bit of hectoring along with the jokes.
Among the potent charms of this little Bulgarian romp is its triviality, and it’s no wonder that the Viennese composer Oskar Staus chose it for conversion into the durable operetta, “The Chocolate Soldier,” named after Bluntschli, one of the most stubbornly charming characters Shaw ever created.
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