"many witty lines.. somehow overlooked"
by Aline Waites for remotegoat on 14/01/18

Shaw calls this one of his Political Plays inspired by the works of the Russian dramatists. Heartbreak House represents the mood of Europe at the beginning of World War One. Captain Shotover, (James Horne) is a cantankerous owner of a large house which he has somehow remodelled into the bridge of a ship. He considers himself an inventor, is currently working on an antidote to Dynamite and keeps a load of it in a shed in his garden.

The Bohemian Aristocracy, who are living a life of indolence on money they don’t have to work for, indulge themselves in literature, the Arts and flirtations. The house is full of utterly charming people including Shotover’s daughter Hesione Hushabye (Helen Anker) who has invited to supper a young girl, Ellie (Lianne Harvey) who wants to marry Mangan (JP Turner), an elderly Industrialist. Hesione wants to dissuade the girl in her mercenary ambitions and even seems a little relieved when the girl admits her passion for Hesione’s own husband Hector. She explains that Ellie’s love for Hector is a waste of time. Hector (Mat Betteridge) is the kind of man who has to fascinate every woman he meets He is already flirting with her sister Ariadne who arrives with her dozy and ineffectual husband Lord Randal Utterwood. The final two members of the party are Ellie’s Dad who seems completely at home in the surroundings and a typical Shavian burglar.

My feeling about Phil Wilmott’s production is that the comedy in Act one is not exploited nearly enough. There is a lot of fun, many witty lines that somehow get overlooked. The actors seem a little too intense as if they have a foreknowledge of disaster. They should have no idea of what is going to happen to their cosy world. The second act is like a different play, as we start to meet the characters individually and things happen. There is a charming scene between Shotover and Ellie which is played with sincerity. After this scene the whole cast seemed to settle down and act two works like a dream.

A fascinating play especially in the political situations in which we find ourselves today.

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