Writers’ Theatre really likes Shaw. I believe I read somewhere that he was the most produced playwright in their history, and since this one was not a musical..I was totally game.
I’ve said before that one of the strengths of this company is the set design. They go for intimacy and work in a small space which requires major creativity. Heartbreak House had the best set I have ever seen. It was the garden of an English country house and I want to live there.
There was grass. Not Brady Bunch turf, but something green and soft that looked like grass. OK – the blades were lying on their sides like it was cut-and-mulched, but still. And. The actors use the aisles for many of their entrances, so one of the aisles had actual gravel. It was awesome, and my seat is in the first row.
Side Note: Overheard in the audience, “That gravel is a liability. Someone is going to turn an ankle.”
Then trees and the porch and the façade of the house. And big pillows and chairs and rugs. It was hard to sit still in my standard modern chair.
As is often the case, my favorite character was the Crazy Old Man. It becomes clear rather quickly that all of the characters are crazy. By the end, there is no greater understanding, no glimpse of peace or happiness or reaching any goals of any kind. And the Blitz starts.
What is interesting is the underlying awareness the characters have of their own sense of drama. That they create their own nonsense because they lead such utterly tedious lives. Such that when the Blitz starts, one guy is turning all of the lights on and almost no one is taking any cover. They want to watch because finally something is happening.
As a societal commentary, Shaw seems to be saying that there is a certain class of people in England with the emotional maturity of 14-year old girls.
So that was fun.