The Man of Destiny
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by David Allen

“What else but a love letter could stir up so much hate,” says the character known as The Strange Lady (Stacy Ross) in Aurora Theatre’s current production The Man of Destiny. It is one of many colorful comments on love and war in this play that immediately identifies this drama as being written by George Bernard Shaw. Born in Dublin in 1856, the Nobel Prize winning playwright was ahead of his time with his biting insights into man-woman relationships.

The play begins on a May morning in 1796. Napoleon (T. Edward Webster) is a young general experiencing some of his first military successes. Shaw characterizes Napoleon as a man arrogantly confident that he can win anything by force. Yet when an enemy of the opposite sex confronts his invincibility, she drives the general crazy in more ways then one.

As irony is piled on top of irony the general is forced to admit that: “Fear is the mainspring of war.” In the war between this man and woman it soon becomes clear that the general is afraid. As The Strange Lady reveals certain delicate dispatches hinting at the infidelity of Napoleon’s wife, his confidence begins to crumble. As his anger grows toward this strange messenger, he begins to fear the passion that lurks behind it. And as the lady ads to the irony by admitting that: “I had the misfortune of being born good,” we watch, as the last becomes first and the first last.

Indeed, this short intense drama, like much of Shaw’s work, takes on biblical proportions with an ironic Irish twist.

Don’t miss this perfectly cast play directed by Barbara Oliver. For tickets or more information call Berkeley’s Aurora Theatre at (510) 843-4822 or visit

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