Theatricum Botanicumcontinues the 2012 Repertory Season with George Bernard Shaw's Heartbreak House. Theatricum artistic director Ellen Geer directs the Nobel Prize-winning author's "Fantasia in the Russian Manner on English Themes" for Theatricum's outdoor stage in idyllic Topanga Canyon. Performances begin tonight, June 9 at 8 pm and continue through the summer. On Fridays Aug. 31, Sept. 7 and Sept. 14, Theatricum will serve "British Pub Grub" dinners in the theater's adjacent gardens at 6:30 pm, followed by an 8 pm performance. (Separate admission, or combination packages available.)
In Heartbreak House, ridiculous aristocrats, idiosyncratic suitors and iconoclastic women grapple with unlikely romance in a world on the brink of war. Young Ellie Dunn (Willow Geer) is invited to the country home of the eccentric Captain Shotover (William Dennis Hunt) by his daughter Hesione (Melora Marshall). Soon the entire family, including Hesione's husband (Mark Lewis) and sister Adriadne (Susan Angelo), is divided over Ellie's decision to marry her father's business partner (Alan Blumenfeld) for money rather than love. A web of escalating events results in unlikely unions, unwanted complications and untimely explosions – both metaphorical and real. But despite the brilliant debates about politics, economics, desire, war, education, religion and science, they are all ignoring the greater cloud that is looming. A ruefully funny play with a serious underlying message that still reverberates today, Shaw proclaimed Heartbreak House to be one of his favorites: "It has more of the miracle, more of the mystic belief in it than any of my others."
Artist, socialist, feminist, anti-war activist, vegetarian, freethinker, street-corner orator and all-around raconteur… if there's one playwright who belongs at Theatricum Botanicum, it's George Bernard Shaw. Shaw's incisive wit and intellectual pyrotechnics light up the stage as his irascible characters challenge social conventions, sexual mores, moral hypocrisy and political folly. Best known as a playwright, Shaw was also a prodigiously prolific novelist, critic, essayist, pamphleteer, politician and public speaker. He penned more than 50 plays, at least a dozen of which are still regularly performed today. "The time seems unusually ripe for Heartbreak House, perhaps Shaw's richest and saddest play about the follies of humanity," The New York Times remarked recently. "Shaw's extravagantly comic but still human characters are men and women with eloquent tongues and ever-ready opinions who also have hearts capable of breaking and souls worth saving… Almost a century after it was written, Heartbreak House proves a keen comic rebuke to cynicism, self-indulgence, and detachment, those all too easy responses to the bitterness of the world."
Heartbreak House opens on Saturday, June 9 and continues through September 30, running in repertory with Shakespeare's Measure for Measure and A Midsummer Night's Dream (opening June 2 and 3), The Women of Lockerbie by Deborah Brevoort (opening June 30) and Cherry Docs by David Gow (opening September 6). Scroll down for a performance schedule, or go to www.theatricum.com. The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum is located at 1419 North Topanga Canyon Blvd. in Topanga, midway between Malibu and the San Fernando Valley For a complete schedule of performances and to purchase tickets, call 310.455.3723 or visit online at www.theatricum.com.