Major Barbara Review 1998

Tuesday, 30 June, 1998

Major Barbara may start out as a comedy, but already towards the end of the first act you realize that it's going to be much more than that. The moment 'Andrew Undershaft' enters the livingroom of the family he left so many years ago, a fight between right and wrong begins to unfold. From that moment on the audience too is starting to wonder what is 'right' and what is 'wrong'.

On one side there is 'Major Barbara', a young woman working in the Salvation Army, who strongly believes she can 'save' everybody with a piece of bread and the bible. On the other side there is her father 'Andrew Undershaft', he has become a millionair selling arms to whoever was willing to pay for them.

For Barbara, wonderfully played by Jemma Redgrave, poverty is a virtue, for her father it's the biggest crime in the world. By inviting eachother to come and see for themselves how 'well' they are doing, they try to convince eachother about the right way of helping the poor.

These 'visits' lead to the most breathtaking theatre I have ever seen. Peter Bowles is brilliant as Andrew Undershaft, powerful and exiting he seems to roll over Barbara and pull her over to his side where people get payed a decent wage and have a good life by making the machines of death. But Barbara doesn't give up without a fight, together with her fiance, a great role of David Yelland, she desperatly tries to hold on to her ideas. During the last act the conflict reaches a climax thats dazzling and makes you wonder if Andrew Undershaft may be right afterall!!

This is so scaring that this isn't a play you see and forget, it keeps you thinking and talking about it for a long time. Don't miss it!! Sir Peter Hall has done a fabulous job and the acting is just incredible.

(Ineke Rauhut)

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