Chambers Stevens sounds like the name of a guy who would write a play about Mark Twain and George Bernard Shaw lunching together. In fact, it sounds like the name of a guy who might have attended such a lunch. The truth is that the playwright of the show making its world premiere Friday courtesy of New Theatre was born Steven Chambers, but he flipped his name when the Screen Actors Guild told him they already had a guy by his birth name on its list.
New Theatre literary director Steven Chambers (no relation) says he was looking for plays with the theme of family and relationships when Twain and Shaw Do Lunch came across his desk. The real meeting between those authors took place after Twain got off a boat bound for England, where he would be awarded an honorary degree from Oxford. En route he met a fellow named Archibald Henderson, a mathematician, literary critic, biographer, and future U.S. congressman who insisted he meet Shaw, the subject of Henderson’s biography. Shaw, then on the verge of becoming the greatest playwright since Shakespeare, invited the aging Twain to his home for lunch. Though the two had much in common, the brilliant, witty, vain, and politically polarized writers at times required intervention from Shaw’s wife to ensure they didn’t destroy each other. The play runs through December 18 at the Roxy Performing Arts Center.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 1 p.m. Starts: Dec. 2. Continues through Dec. 18, 2011