Tuesday August 22nd 2017

“Heartbreak House”

Highly recommended  George Bernard Shaw and Writers’ Theatre have a tremendous relationship. Writers” is one of the few smaller theater troupes to take on the many moods of Shaw and in their current production,:Heartbreak House”, a play that is known to be Shaw’s most personal of stories, taken from his life and the stories from his friends as well as his opportunity to speak  out about war, we see just how amazing this company is. Under the direction of William Brown, who truly understands the playwright we are taken to a country home in England where we witness an unusual and extraordinary reunion of the Shotover family and friends. The time is the 1940’s as  World War II is taking on steam ( although when written it was World War I going on) as we meet this very dysfunctional family. Captain Shotover, a Navy man resides  on his estate with one of his two daughters, Hesione Hushabye ( handled with just the right touch by Karen James Woditsch) and her husband Hector) who is a ne’er-do-well Romeo ( deftly handled by Martin Yurek), The household is “steered by  the Captain ( another fine performance by the always powerful John Reeger, who has made character acting an art) and their Nurse/housekeeper ( Jeannie Affelder). Hessie has invited a new friend, Ellie Dunn ( marvelously played by Atra Asdou ), her father ( Kareem Bandealy) and her betrothed, Boss Mangan ( the always reliable John Lister, who shows a flair for the comic touch with this character). The Captain’s other daughter, Lady Utterword ( deliciously handled by Tiffany Scott) comes for a visit as well followed by her brother-in-law Randall ( Kevin Christopher Fox). A glorious cast indeed!

The story, known to be Shaw’s favorite involves love affairs as they all get involved with Ms. Dunn’s situation. Should she marry Boss for his money ? The facts are that Boss saved her father from losing all that he had and that to move up the social ladder, a marriage such as this would be the easy way. She however, does not love him, but as she is told by other guests, love may not be as important a speople make it out to be. During this three act play ( roughly 2 hours and 55 minutes including the two 10 minute intermissions), we learn a great deal about the social and class systems of England during this period. We also learn about human nature and how easy it is to seduce and be seduced. There is also one more character, a burglar ( a cute scene played to the hilt by Tim Gittings) I won’t divulge all of what transpires during this scene, but this also goes to showing how Shaw felt  about “the system”. As the play draws to a close, we witness the changes in each of the lives that we have been observing. Truly, a  masterpiece!

This is a very funny production, handled with just the right feeling and touch by Brown who has done a number of Shaw plays, as actor and director. Keith Pitts set is absolutely perfect and makes the audience feel that they are on the grounds peering over an invisible wall , sort of spying on the neighbors and the lighting by Jesse Klug and costumes by Rachel Anne Healy truly add to the overall experience. Andrew Hansen’s sound is the icing on the cake with some wonderful interlude music to end and begin each act. If you love Shaw, this is a must see for you. Writers’ , with their very intimate theater is by far the best way to experience the brilliance of Shaw, so if you are new to his work ( with the exception of “Pygmalion” which of course became “My Fair Lady”) this is a great start to your education. A wonderful story, told by a perfect cast under the direction of one of our finest directors at Writers’ Theatre located at 325 Tudor Court in Glencoe ( just south of Dundee Road and East of Green Bay Road) with plenty of parking. This production will run through June 26th with performances as follows:

Tuesdays and Wednesdays 7:30 p.m. ( Wednesday matinees 2 p.m. on May 18th and June 22nd),Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.,Saturdays at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. ( no evening on May 22nd and June 26th)

Tickets range from $45-$65 and are available at the box office located down the street at their other venue, 376 Park Avenue ( this is the bookstore where they do even more intimate productions to sell out crowds) by phone at 847-242-6000 or online at www.writerstheatre.org

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