(Classic Books on Cassettes Collection)
By George Bernard Shaw
Audio Book Contractors, (1997)
An Unabridged Audio Edition on Cassette
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - May 17, 2010
Many people consider the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) a genius, a comic, a deep thinker, a man concerned about culture and the world's future, an opponent of complacency, a socialist, sensitive to the degree that he fought against using animals for experiments and eating them; he was a vegetarian.
This 1913 play is a comic delight. Think of the old lady in the TV comedy Golden Girls who speaks her mind without care of what she says, mentions what is appropriate but what others would not state openly, says what is funny and often hilarious. Think what the situation would be if all or virtually all the characters in the play were this open. Think also of elevating the plot and language of Golden Girls, of having the play written by a master like Shaw. This is Heartbreak Hotel.
A gaggle of such boisterous characters descend upon the eccentric home of 88 year old Captain Shotover, who may or may not be mentally present, as if it was a hotel, including a naïve young girl, Ellie, who feels obligated to be engaged to a rich stuffy older man, as old as her father, because her father told her that the man helped him by giving him money – (but did he, and is she really naive?); the Captain's daughter who is determined to awaken Ellie and break off her engagement; the daughter's husband who loves his wife dearly but has a need to flirt with other women and tell them heroic lies about his fanciful adventures; the daughter's sister who married two decades earlier to escape her father's mad house who has just returned after 23 years and is fascinated by her sister's husband; Ellie's father and her suitor, a quirky nurse, and others who are equally strange and fascinating.
A sample line by the captain's daughter: "Why do they (men) envy us the pain with which we bring them into the world, and make strange dangers and torments for themselves to be even with us?"
Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of fifteen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Rabbi Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides, the latest being Maimonides: Reason Above All, published by Gefen Publishing House, www.gefenpublishing.com. The Orthodox Union (OU) publishes daily samples of the Targum books on www.ouradio.org.