Man and Superman


Writers: George Bernard Shaw


Show Information

Number of Acts
First Produced
Comedy, Satire
Time & Place
london, sierra nevada, grenada
Cast Size
Ideal for
community theatre, professional theatre, university theatre
Casting Notes
Mostly male cast
Includes mature adult, young adult, adult, elderly characters


Man and Superman is a massive drama full of both light comedy and deep philosophy, based on Nietzsche's theory of the Abermensch, or superman. Acts I, II, and IV play as romantic comedy with a bite. Ann Whitefield relentlessly pursues dedicated bachelor Jack Tanner, not giving up until he agrees to marry her. No one really likes Ann, least of all Tanner; she is a selfish bully. But, she is imbued with the Life Force, making her charmingly irresistible. By contrast, the third act of the play is set in Hell, and the lead characters take on roles from Mozart's Don Giovanni. There, they engage in a long philosophical discussion about the eternal conflicts between men and women and Heaven and Hell. This third act provides a philosophical context within which to understand the other three acts, giving the comedy and romance of acts I, II, and IV a deeper meaning. In performance, however, Act III is almost always excised. Act III has also been performed separately, as a one-act entitled, Don Juan in Hell.

Lead Characters

Man and Superman guide sections