The Curtain Closes on Dysfunctional Family Fun

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 - 6:31pm

If you are looking to put some fun into your weekend, head over to the Ruth Page Theater and catch a performance of Bernard Shaw’s: Heartbreak House. Enjoy the dysfunctional family fun that occurred at Captain Shotover's house one afternoon in 1917, Sussex, England. ShawChicago is concluding it's 2016/17 season, Dysfunctional Family Fun, with George Bernard Shaw's World War I dramedy Heartbreak House.

Heartbreak House invites guests to a dinner party hosted by Hesione Hushabye, where everyone is the least bit concerned that there is a war going on and more concerned about where they stand in society.

Ellie Dunn, her father and her fiancé are invited by Hesione Hushabye to the house of her eccentric father, Captain Shotover. Captain Shotover, is an inventor in his late 80’s who is trying to create a “phychic ray” that will destroy dynamite. Lady Utterword, Hesione’s sister, arrives from Australia after being away for 23 years. Captain Shotover, greets her at the door and pretends not to recognize her.

Ellie intends to marry businessman Boss Mangan because she is tired of being poor, but is really in love with a man she met in the National Gallery. Unfortunately, her fiancé is a ruthless scoundrel, her father’s bumbling idiot, and the man she’s in love with is Hector, Hesione’s husband, who spends his time telling women, what they want to hear.

As the evening at Heartbreak House continues, a burglar is captured. The guests say they don’t want to press charges, but he insists that he will turn himself in unless they pay him not to. The burglar is revealed to be a former crew member of Captain Shotover and admits to not being a real burglar. He breaks in and plans to get caught to get charitable donations from his victims. Ellie suggests that she should marry Shotover, but he claims that he’s already married to a lady he met in the islands, though it’s possible she could be dead.

Mangan, declares he is to be head of a government department, but Ellie is unimpressed and suddenly announces she can’t marry him, because she has married Shotover in the garden. Over head the sound of bombs can be heard, and the lights are shut off. Hector turns them back on to show his lack of concern about the impending threat. A bomb lands in the garden, blowing up Mangan and the burglar who were hiding there. As the play comes to a close, everyone admits to how bored they are with their lives and hope the bombs will come again tomorrow.

Heartbreak House  is directed by Robert Scogin, who made is celebrating his twenty-first season at Shaw’s Chicago, where he has direct more than fifty productions.

Performances run March 4 – March 27 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn Street, Chicago, IL 60610.  Tickets may be purchased at or over the phone (312) 587-7390.

Upcoming shows include The Devil's Disciple (October 14, 2017) and Jeeves in Bloom (February 3, 2018)

Photo Credit: Dakota Sillyman

I was invited to attend this performance as a member of the media.


1016 N Dearborn St, Chicago, IL 60610
The Ruth Page Dance Center provides classes for children and adults as well as studio and theatre rentals, and an in-residence program.

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