It was written during World War I, and it's very theatrical. The characters would be terrific for actors to play, including four strong roles for women; there's a lot of theatrical comedy in it such as the hypnotism gags, the burglar who takes round a collection, and the eccentric sea captain and owner of the house who keeps wandering through the action at inopportune moments; and it is all shot through with Shaw's usual wit and fierce intelligence.
Basically, it's a country house party at which a disparate group of characters get together and fence with each other through their problems. One is the "evil banker"/industrialist, who I can see being very popular with today's audiences, and a major theme of the play is where the relatively new forces of capitalism and trade fit in with civilisation as we know it.
A sub-theme seemed to be the power of beautiful women, and their wickedness in affecting men physically with their attractiveness, like it's the women's fault - isn't this the argument that certain religions use when they request women to hide underneath lots of clothing? The two goddesses in question, who are actually glamorous but middle-aged matrons who mother some of the male characters, are several times forcefully called "daughters of the devil" over this - but one of the men is described as being very handsome, and no one goes abusing him about the effects he may be having over the opposite sex's hormones..... That bit struck me as being just a little bit misygonist and nasty.
And another theme is how in an affluent society you get a layer of people who are useless, unable to contribute anything or do anything except indulge in petty spite and gossip and looking good for dinner. Shaw takes quite a swipe here - and I can see a modern audience being on his side.
I'll go and see a production if one comes to my area. But it's not joining my list of favourite Shaw plays.
on 27 April 2010
I like nearly all plays of George Bernard Shaw, so it was super for me to get them for such a low price. I started with Pygmalion, and it is really good.
I bought the audio cassette of "About a boy" for more or less nothing, which is extremely good for something you like very much. The only disadvantage is that you cannot follow the text in the book because the cassette is a bit shortened.