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  Heartbreak House at Writers Theatre

Heartbreak House

Writers Theatre
325 Tudor Court Glencoe

The nation is on the brink of massive change, but is its leadership up to the seemingly insurmountable challenges that lie ahead? Meanwhile in the English countryside on the estate of Captain Shotover, an extraordinary assemblage of guests gather to reunite and reacquaint. Affairs begin, engagements end and hearts and minds become irreparably ensnared in a young woman's dilemma—whether to marry for love or for money. George Bernard Shaw—the unequivocal master of wit and social thought—bitingly chronicles the demise of the leisure class in his favorite play Heartbreak House.

Thru - Jun 26, 2011

Price: $45-$65

Stage: Performed at 325 Tudor Court

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 847-242-6000

Running Time: 2hrs, 50mins; one intermission

Writers Theatre Seating Charts

Nearby Restaurants

  Heartbreak House Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Somewhat Recommended

"...The cast does not fully cohere and sometimes looks more comfortable in the individual frames that Brown provides. And although Lister does take some real risks, the show otherwise lacks personal revelation. In the best, shiver-inducing productions of “Heartbreak House,” you always sense that Hermione and her lovely, sensualist crew suspect that the sand on which they fiddle is shifting. They just prefer to delude themselves. And who does not?"
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...At the very moment director Michael Halberstam is at Lincoln Center Theater, preparing for Saturday’s New York premiere of “A Minister’s Wife” (the musical based on George Bernard Shaw’s play “Candida” that he developed at his Glencoe-based Writers’ Theatre ), another unquestionably brilliant if difficult play by Shaw has arrived at Writers’. And director William Brown has gathered a whip-smart cast and design team there to create an emotionally stinging, achingly funny, often transcendent production."
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Hedy Weiss

Daily Herald - Somewhat Recommended

"... But for all its good looks, polish and still relevant criticism of shameless capitalism and casual morality, this “Heartbreak House” isn’t especially riveting. The production feels a bit detached, much like Shaw’s characters — idle, self-absorbed Brits frittering away the days as the apocalypse approaches. Put in real estate terms, Writers’ “Heartbreak House” is the theatrical equivalent of a Chicago bungalow: sturdy and comfortable but not especially distinctive."
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Barbara Vitello

Examiner - Somewhat Recommended

"...The primary flaw in Writers’ Theatre’s staging lies in its esoteric aesthetic. This is a production that emphasizes intellectual ideas far above emotive heart. As a clutch of upper crust guests gather at Captain Shotover’s ship-like home for a long weekend, their dilemmas seem more like points in an exceedingly articulate debate than true troubles of flesh and blood humans."

Catey Sullivan

Chicago Reader - Recommended

"... The period problems are far from unforgivable, and the production is wonderfully fluid, fluent, and funny overall. Atra Asdou's Ellie Dunn lacks a necessary fire, but she's surrounded by a vivid ensemble. Martin Yurek seems constantly aghast at himself as Hector the fabulist. John Lister is a hoot as Boss Mangan, slowly disintegrating as the honesty in the air makes it harder and harder for him to breathe. And John Reeger is positively august as Captain Shotover. Amused, cantankerous, sly, and frankly self-aware, Reeger's Shotover is the very soul of Heartbreak House."
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Tony Adler

Time Out Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...A lush garden setting devised by Keith Pitts dominates the Writers’ production, inviting the audience to share in the Shotover clan’s delusions of pastoral safety. Brown and his strong cast handle the play’s intricate counterpoint masterfully; besides stellar work by Reeger and Lister, Karen Janes Woditsch is a nuanced, commanding Hesione Hushabye, and Martin Yurek hilarious as her daffy husband, Hector."
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John Beer

ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"...In a way, this play can be a bit tiring (not to say tiresome!): one must always be paying attention, be vigilant, to know the evolutions these characters are going through.  But it is not hard to do, as Shaw’s writing is so good, and the acting and directing in this production are stellar.  And the director’s decision to set this at the beginning of the Second Great War, rather than the First, seems, to me, to be neither here nor there.  It does cause very occasional, very slight awkwardness in the text: the industrial revolution had a few wrinkles ironed out of it by the late thirties, and the extent to which the Indians were looked down upon, though perhaps still the right amount for this time period, felt a little too harsh anyway; that is to say, the amount of possession the citizens of the Empire felt over their colonists makes more sense to me the further back one goes (to an extent, obviously).  And yet, this transfer of time does make a lot of sense, and it may, as the director believes, affect the play’s immediacy for modern audiences.  Regardless, it is a beautiful production, and a pleasure to watch."
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Will Fink

Let's Play at ChicagoNow - Recommended

"... Under the expert direction of William Brown, this show is cast perfectly! Each ensemble member magnificently transforms into distinct and idiosyncratic characters. In the houseful of talent, the family members are the resident standouts. 'Oh captain! My captain!' John Reeger (Captain Shotover) is fantastic delivering nuggets of wisdom alongside hilariously, wacky one liners."
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Katy Walsh

Chicago Stage Standard - Highly Recommended

"...Director Brown has given the play a surprising and exotic underlying quality that finds rich meaning in Shaw's classic words and characters. And Scenic Designer Keith Pitts has placed them in such an idyllic English garden (with atmospheric crickets, too boot, courtesy of Composer and Sound Designer Andrew Hansen) that Chicago's prolonged chilly climate instantly rises the moment you walk through the doors. Hansen's well-chosen period music and Rachel Anne Healy's lovely costumes add the perfect spice to the evening. Like all great theatre, Writers transports you magically to an entirely different time and place, but one with fascinating and timely parallels to our own. A "Heartbreaking" hit if there ever was one."

Joe Stead

Around The Town Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...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."
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Alan Bresloff

Chicago Theater Beat - Recommended

"...Writers’ production speaks to what can be unearthed amidst the anguish of love gone awry and the catharsis of reckless abandon. As social commentary, not even a slight update–pushing the story up to WWII–makes the class predicaments entirely identifiable. Well-acted as the performances may be (John Reeger, Janes Woditsch and Tiffany Scott leading the strong ensemble), tedium undercuts several stretches within early scenes. Sex, too, is lacking. Improper seduction perpetuates some of the comedy, and jealousy and wanting perpetuate most of the story–both are dependent on clear sensuality. This Heartbreak could benefit from more. It’s a slow simmer, but by Act III, those shortcomings are easy to forget. Shaw’s skepticism on marriage and relationships progress from era-dependency to something more universal with each act. For all its long-windedness, Heartbreak’s takeaway is the final wordless tableau: a group unified by disappointment, knowing to move on, and looking to the sky for its own destruction."

Dan Jakes

   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.

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