The Arts

Heartbreak House

Heartbreak House featured image

Reviewed by Paula Citron

Heartbreak House
Shaw Festival
Written by George Bernard Shaw
Directed by Christopher Newton
Featuring Michael Ball, Deborah Hay, Robin Evan Willis, Benedict Campbell, Laurie Paton and Blair Williams
Festival Theatre
May 10 to Oct. 7, 2011

Heartbreak House is considered one of Shaw’s greatest plays. Written in 1916, Shaw withheld production until after the war, and for good reason. Heartbreak House predicts bombing raids and the end of the world as Edwardian England knew it.

In the play, the characters talk a great deal, but about mundane things. They are basically from the idle upper classes, yet among their banalities, many Shavian home truths get uttered. They may be shallow people, but their thoughts are profound, even if they don’t realize that fact.

One of the most exciting features is Leslie Frankish’s set. Capt. Shotover’s library is supposed to be in the shape of a poop deck, but Frankish has created a brilliant structure that evokes not only a ship, but a cradle and a huge animal skeleton.

In this play, the great Shaw acting ensemble is seen to brilliant effect, under Christopher Newton’s astute direction.

Heartbreak House continues at the Shaw Festival Theatre until Oct. 7.

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