We recently finished reading Dracula at our bookclub, and while I have already written a review on the book, I felt that not only was there much more I could say, but I simply cannot leave the book at simply the book because of the huge amount of influence that it has had on our society. For instance, people have said that after reading the book as young person they so fell in love with it that they ended up carrying it everywhere and regularly consulting it (I have a problem – what will Dracula do?). Well, I’m actually not all that sure whether Dracula can be considered a practical guide to life in the way that the Bible is, but also I am not surprised that there are such reactions to the book.
It seems as if there is a resurgence of interest in the plays of George Bernard Shaw, though when I say resurgence I am referring to having seen three plays of his over the past three years, which is significant because I pretty much haven’t seen any of his plays previously. That probably has a lot to do with not actually knowing about him, or having any appreciation of his work prior to purchasing a copy of Pygmalion and proceeding to read it. The other problem is that the lack of options when it comes to theatre in Australia, but then again it does teach me to keep my eyes open. However, the stage on screen series that are now being played at various cinemas around Australia helps a lot as well. So, when I discovered that Saint Joan was going to be one of the films shown I took the day off work, made my way down to the Palace Brighton Bay, and began to treat myself to another play that I am not expecting to see again any time soon.
Okay, this may not be the first Bernard Shaw play that I have seen performed, however the previous one, Man and Superman, was a performance by the National Theatre that was filmed and then distributed to various cinemas around the world. Okay, while it may not have been live, it was close enough, and seeing Ralph Fiennes performing on stage was an experience to say the least.
As I have said on my numerous reviews on Goodreads (and elsewhere), a play is meant to be watched, not read, and it can be very difficult to truly appreciate a play unless you watch it performed. The problem is that you rarely see many plays performed by playwrights of the past (unless that playwright is Shakespeare – he is still very popular). This means that it was going to be difficult, if not impossible, to actually see any of Shaw’s works. However, imagine my delight when I jumped onto the website of the Palace Nova Brighton Bay and discovered that they were showing a production of Shaw’s Man & Superman that was recently staged in London. While I have seen movie adaptations of couple of his plays (The Devil’s Disciple and Caeser and Cleopatra – both of which have now been removed from Youtube due to copyright violations), I have yet, until now, seen one of his plays performed. Of all the plays that they could have chosen they selected a relatively obscure one.
Oscar Wilde is surely a tragic figure, a victim of 19th and early 20th century prejudice. Then again, I guess it also had something to do with him being quite a well known personality at the time, though in 1895 he was convicted of ‘Gross Indecency’ ), and sentenced to two years in gaol.