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Widowers' Houses

From 14 critic and 31 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Thought-provoking, Entertaining, Clever, Relevant

About the show

The Actors Company Theatre presents George Bernard Shaw's debut play about a young man's crisis of conscience when he must choose between his love and his ideals. More…

When Harry met Blanche by the banks of the Rhine, he knew he’d met his match. But when Harry discovers the sordid origins of Blanche's father's fortune, both lovers must decide whether romance or moral principle will rule their fates.

Times Square Chronicles

"The play is just as relevant today as when it was written...David Staller obviously knows and loves this material and it shows. His direction is crisp, entertaining, fleshed out and fresh. He draws the best from his actors and allows them to go to the edge of their characters without falling off the cliff...This is a must see for all who love Shaw and a great introduction to those who don’t." Full Review


"This excellent revival is a fascinating opportunity to observe that the themes and style of writing Shaw would become known for in his later works were there from the beginning...Shaw entwines the plot with comedy and blunt pragmatism...His characters verbosely state their opinions and observations often at length. The result is drawing room comedy with depth. Director David Staller has ingeniously staged this small-scale production." Full Review

PollyTalk From New York

"The comedy gripped the attention of the audience while pressing forward with a message about sex, greed and real estate. The spirited rhetoric by a cast of stellar performers with their strong individual presence in period costumes is as relevant today as it was in the Victorian era. Staller puts a spin on this production that keeps the action moving into the still annoying relevant issues that will resonate with you, and at the same time enlighten and entertain." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"While all of the characterizations are adroitly handled, Monahon's is the most demanding, the most mercurial. She doesn't hold back from depicting any of Blanche's darker inclinations...Shaw followers don't get the opportunity to take in 'Widowers' House' often, but that's not the only reason for racing to this one. An even more incentive for raising a foaming beer stein to it is that it's so well and so forthrightly done. Director Staller's belief in it being presented pays off handsomely." Full Review

The Wall Street Journal

"A refreshingly unpreachy comedy about the evils of capitalism that ought to be as popular as 'Pygmalion'...TACT’s revival, directed by David Staller, is a winner, a small-scale staging that’s as full of Shavian sparkle as the play itself...Mr. Staller has also trimmed and tightened the text in order to keep the pace as brisk as possible, cutting the cast from eight to six and bringing the running time in at a hair under two hours, all to utterly pleasurable effect." Full Review

Off Off Online

"Here the playwright takes on tenement housing and the ruthlessness of businessmen—topics that still sizzle…Under Staller’s direction, the actors do splendidly…Here and there Staller gives a textual boost to Shaw…It’s symptomatic of the care Staller has invested, although the climactic moment seems the director’s own...It’s a more overtly cynical note than in Shaw’s original, but the playwright might still have approved." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"Despite it being classed as one of Shaw’s 'romantic comedies,' the laughs are subsumed by Shaw’s anger at the social conditions he attacks. However, there’s considerable energy and sprightliness in Mr. Staller’s adaptation, enough to maintain the semblance of a comic spirit so that the more nefarious aspects of the plot and characters retain their entertaining edge. This production shows it’s not only pleasurable in its own right...but that its relevance has never vanished." Full Review

New York Theatre Wire

"George Bernard Shaw’s first play, given a first-rate performance by The Actors Company Theatre directed by David Staller, establishes the theme of personal morality vs business corruption that would be a signature of his works through the years...Does this play written more than a hundred years ago seem very current? Director Staller makes it seem as if it could happen today." Full Review

NY Theatre Guide

"A fascinating if uneven show. Director David Staller has mounted an impeccable show, aided by Brian Prather’s pristine set, Barbara A. Bell’s accurate costumes and Peter West’s lighting. The unevenness has solely to do with Shaw’s script. It was, after all, his first play. So most of the characters are two-dimensional at best. The Shavian wit is blunted. The humor, such as it is, is forced…As Shaw would like, we walk out of the theater thinking." Full Review

Time Out New York

"George Bernard Shaw had the notion that very little money can be considered truly clean. Director David Staller offers the rare opportunity to study this obsession at its inception—in an adaptation not always to the good. It’s an odd homage that seeks to improve on an acknowledged master...To Staller’s credit, he has turned out a sprightly, enjoyable rendering that comes across as a piquant drawing-room comedy packing some provocative talking points, very much in the spirit of the original." Full Review


"Despite proficiency from the performers and the creative team, and despite its topicality, 'Widowers' Houses' fails to captivate. It may be an important piece in understanding Shaw's career as a dramatist, but the play itself is unlikely to win over audiences thanks to its excessive focus on real estate transactions." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"There's a reason 'Widowers' Houses' has been seen exactly once on Broadway...the provocative arguments are in place, but the sparkle isn't yet there...If played straight, 'Widowers' Houses' can be made to work, but the current production works much too hard, never really coming to grips with the acrid facts at the play's center...The script is an uneasy mix of romantic comedy, on which Staller puts too much emphasis, and social drama, which here becomes overwrought melodrama." Full Review

Stage Buddy

"I doubt that the script was ever meant to be played as a farce. In many scenes in the production, however—notably, the early ones—farce seems to be Staller’s game...Later scenes are much more subdued—and the characters come off as humans rather than caricatures. Perhaps Staller meant to switch to a more naturalistic mode as the story’s serious themes emerge. But it’s hard to take the characters seriously when they’ve previously behaved so clownishly." Full Review

The New York Times

"A curiously static production...Shaw intended 'Widowers’ Houses' to highlight the complicity, greed and indifference that allow the upper classes to thrive at the expense of the lower. His third act bogs down in the obscure details of a real estate scheme...The play is a novice effort by a fledgling dramatist, but it isn’t helped by Mr. Staller’s additions to the text, which have none of Shaw’s comic acerbity. I can’t help thinking that the playwright would squirm." Full Review

Ambitious, Entertaining, Delightful

See it if you enjoy George Bernand Shaw!

Don't see it if you can't understand British English!

Clever, Great acting, Relevant, Resonant, Great writing

See it if you like well-done productions of very old plays. I had not one complaint of this play, and I'm often highly critical.

Don't see it if you want it to equal Shaw's greatest plays, this is his 1st. You've no stomach for morality plays, or want something more thought-provoking.

Absorbing, Relevant, Refreshing

See it if You enjoy thought-provoking theatre, with great music and stellar young performers.

Don't see it if You don't like political-themed shows, musicals or children.

Great acting, Great writing, Relevant, Resonant, Entertaining

See it if You want to see a terrific production of Shaw's 1st play-still amazingly relevant & mportant.The ingenue is someone to see-she should be a ☆

Don't see it if You don't enjoy great writing and production.

Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Great acting, Great writing

See it if You like terrific acting and sharp writing. Talene Monahon gives a tour de force performance and Shaw's writing remains relevant today.

Don't see it if you don't like plays that take place over 100 years ago.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if You like to see great actors up close. The theatre is small so you really can appreciate what they're doing.

Don't see it if You don't like to think about divisions between the classes, or where your money, food, etc comes from.

Clever, Great staging, Thought-provoking

See it if you wonder 'what would I do if...', this gives you a chance to see what these characters do when they discover the source of their income

Don't see it if clever staging and witty banter wrapped around hard hitting issues doesn't suit you. Its great Shaw, well done!

Absorbing, Very timely, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Funny

See it if You like GB Shaw, see the sweep of repeating history, appreciate questioning the status quo.

Don't see it if You want big staging, costumes, music. You do not want to be morally challenged, will vote Republican this year!

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Thought-provoking

See it if you like a gentle challenge - BG SHaw's 1st play - great acting and direction, clever set & costumes - a delight

Don't see it if You want nothing but mindless entertainment, you want a musical

Clever, Funny, Intelligent, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if You like British comedies with some "teeth" to them, esp socially progressive political views from 1900 that illuminate current problems.

Don't see it if You're not a fan of George Bernard Shaw's semi-socialist polemics cleverly embedded into a comedy set in 1900 about unscrupulous landlords.

Clever, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Thought-provoking

See it if You'd like to see a master playwright's first play that foreshadows much of the brilliance that was to come. Great acting and direction!

Don't see it if You hate Shaw, or you don't like to "think" too hard.

Great writing, Entertaining, Delightful, Thought-provoking, Quaint

See it if deliciously old-fashioned, yet timely. Fun, funny and thought-provoking. Issues of financial abuse & political corruption are still current.

Don't see it if small set. Some of the financial details are given a bit to fast to be understood thoroughly.

Indulgent, Disappointing, Funny, Entertaining, Confusing

See it if you are curious about Shaw's very first play, enjoy complex intellectual arguments, like plays that explore issues of poverty vs wealth

Don't see it if you find Shaw too complex, don't like intellectual arguments re: poverty vs. wealth, don't like some overacting

Anecdotal, Clever, Thought-provoking

See it if you enjoy Downton Abbey, Jane Austen or similar English tropes. Ironically, this play (Shaw's first) turns such tropes on their heads.

Don't see it if you're not in the mood to listen intently and pontificate accordingly. It's mainly intellectually engaging - doesn't quite hit the heart.

Entertaining, Dated, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if to see a rarely performed revival of George Bernard Shaw's very 1st play. This production retains the wit, if not the bite, of Shaw.

Don't see it if you're looking for this production to skewer current social injustices the way so many of Shaw's plays did in his time & can still do today.

Cliched, Disappointing, Overrated, Slow

See it if you need to check this Shaw off your list (which is why I went)

Don't see it if you are bigger than that....

Classic, Old fashioned

See it if You like stories from the 1890s or classic plays. The script still holds up and provides some laughs.

Don't see it if You don't like smaller shows, period pieces or older plays. The acting is a bit uneven.

Cliched, Dated, Indulgent

See it if You need your fill of a Shaw play; A period piece that feels relevant is satisfying to you.

Don't see it if You want inspired direction and a piece that pushes new boundaries on older text.

Confusing, Disappointing, Excruciating, Slow

See it if You're a huge fan of Shaw and don't mind community-theater-based acting (actors who are one-dimensional and overact)

Don't see it if You want to stay awake

Absorbing, Clever, Great writing, Entertaining, Masterful

See it if Love g.b shaw

Don't see it if Costume dramas

Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining

See it if you love Shaw and intimate environment

Don't see it if don't like period dramas

Funny, Great acting, Delightful

See it if You are a Shaw fan, interested in political content, love really good acting.

Don't see it if If you don't like political content, or don't like Shaw

During previews
Entertaining, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if you're a Shaw fan and you like intelligent discussion.See the current Presidential candidates' views debated in 20th century costumes!

Don't see it if You don't want to face the mirror that is held up to mankind.

During previews
Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if you like the work of Shaw and want to see a well acted out play

Don't see it if you like musicals, or plays that require some thought

During previews
Clever, Entertaining, Great acting, Resonant

See it if very timely considering it was written a long time ago.

Don't see it if you don't like costume dramas.

Cast & Creatives (13)