Socialist Studies

Southern Methodist University's Division of Theater's new production Smash! is about the consequences of introducing Marxism to a private all-girls school. Though we have visions of Groucho, Harpo and Chico hiding in closets, taunting naïve girls with mildly suggestive comments and starting food fights in the cafeteria, it's actually about socialism. Karl Marx, not the Marx Brothers.

Still, SMU ensures us that Smash! is a comedy with plenty of romance and high jinks (but no mashed potato tossing as far as we've heard). It's written by Jeffrey Hatcher (The Turn of the Screw and Bon Voyage) and based on the novel The Unsocial Socialist by Irish political activist and witty fellow George Bernard Shaw, who also wrote Pygmalion.

Smash! opens with millionaire socialist (and walking oxymoron, apparently) Sidney leaving his bride Henrietta at the altar when he decides he needs to devote more time to the cause. He disguises himself as a groundskeeper at a finishing school known for educating girls who will soon marry into influential, wealthy families. Sidney hopes to start a revolution from within the upper class with his socialist ingenues, but finds himself instead with a series of romantic entanglements and a wife who shows up to rant against her wayward husband's views. During the acts of Smash!, Sidney is exposed as the poseur (in job and in political beliefs) he truly is, and he learns that women aren't quite as malleable as he expected, which we bet he could have learned if he hadn't ditched his wife before the wedding cake had been cut. Throw in a guy in a trench coat with a bicycle horn, and we'll be set.

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Shannon Sutlief

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