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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    Heartbreak House has its critics and detractors but I think it is a masterwork: an elegy that is also a fireworks display of Shaw. It is rarely shown in its entirety. This production is the closest I have seen. If anything is missing I am not aware of it. It even includes the burglary sequence, which is almost always omitted.



    It was part of a series called "BBC Play of the Week". Were all of the productions of this calibre?



    John Geilgud is Shotover and while he is not really believable as a former wild-living sea captain, he has the wily intelligence that is the most important aspect of the part and what a pleasure it is to hear him find every nuance in the dialogue.



    Sian Phillips is Hesione. I am not familiar with her. But she is the best Hesione I have seen.



    Lesley-Ann Down is Ellie and does a very good job capturing the steel under the beauty. And she is beautiful. In fact, she is so beautiful here - one of the most beautiful woman I have seen - that it almost throws the play off balance. It is impossible to keep my eyes off her.



    The scenes between Down and Phillips are the best in the play. They develop a real sense of timing between them with the difficult and complex dialogue:



    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Nz22R4fVb0]YouTube - Heartbreak House 3/13[/ame]

  2. #2
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    I read the play years ago - it made a great impression on me at the time, but that has faded. Thanks for bringing my attention to the fact it's at YT; will give me an opportunity to see it brought off the page.



    I read some reviews that called it Shaw's Chekhov play. I suppose the setup is Chekhovian - I had the impression it was very much of its time and the shadow of the First World War hung over it all.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Country: UK CaptainWaggett's Avatar
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    Hertbreak House is available in this collection



    [ame=http://www.amazon.co.uk/George-Bernard-Shaw-Collection-Millionairess/dp/B000FPV8LU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1272916778&sr=1-1]The George Bernard Shaw Collection: 6 Disc Box Set Arms and the Man/The Man of Destiny/The Devil's Disciple/Mrs Warren's Profession/Pygmalion/Heartbreak House/The Millionairess/The Apple Cart DVD: Amazon.co.uk: Patrick Stewart, Coral Browne, [/ame]



    Have you not seen I, Claudius, Tim? Sian Philips was Livia in that - it's far and away her most famous role

  4. #4
    Senior Member Country: UK Windthrop's Avatar
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    I remember seeing Rex Harrison in a TV version in the 80s. I also remember seeing a programme with a section about Colin Blakely being made up as Shotover in the 70s.

  5. #5
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    name='Windthrop']I remember seeing Rex Harrison in a TV version in the 80s. I also remember seeing a programme with a section about Colin Blakely being made up as Shotover in the 70s.


    Thanks for that - always welcome Blakely anecdotes.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    name='blacknorth']I read the play years ago - it made a great impression on me at the time, but that has faded. Thanks for bringing my attention to the fact it's at YT; will give me an opportunity to see it brought off the page.



    I read some reviews that called it Shaw's Chekhov play. I suppose the setup is Chekhovian - I had the impression it was very much of its time and the shadow of the First World War hung over it all.


    You're welcome.



    Yes, it is similar to Chekhov. The sense of impending doom is much more literal here with the explosion and attack by unnamed foes. In this version there is an approaching aircrat that is shown at regular intervals - but the image doesn't quite work. Usually there is no warning.



    The complete collapse of pre-revolutionary Russia and the class represented in Chekhov is not comparable to the collapse predicted in Heartbreak House, of course, but I thought his concept of heartbreak spreading out of that house to all of England was a fascinating one. I find Shaw cold even in his best plays. This is the exception. I do think it will prove to be his best: the prophetic note is genuine.



    It is available on DVD and video as well - and the Rex Harrison version is on video as well although difficult to find.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    name='Windthrop']I remember seeing Rex Harrison in a TV version in the 80s. I also remember seeing a programme with a section about Colin Blakely being made up as Shotover in the 70s.


    I have the Rex Harrison version. Some of the casting doesn't quite come off, such as Dana Ivey, although Rosemarry Harris is very good as Hesione. The pace is faster and the text has been edited. I love this play and prefer to watch the most complete version available - but there are some effective scenes.

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