Heartbreak House


Writers: George Bernard Shaw


Show Information

Number of Acts
First Produced
Period, Multiple Settings
Time & Place
The eccentric household of Captain Shotover, Sussex, England, A September evening during WWI
Cast Size
Ideal for
College/University, Community Theatre, Ensemble Cast, Professional Theatre, Regional Theatre
Casting Notes
Mostly male cast
Includes young adult, adult, mature adult, elderly characters


The stage is set for a summer evening gathering at the Bohemian estate of Captain Shotover -- an eccentric inventor and retired sailor. He lives with his daughter, the fiery and bewitching Hesione, and her husband, the rakish and charming Hector Hushabye. As the guests arrive, romantic tension fills the air. Ariadne Utterword, Captain Shotover’s beautiful and flirtatious younger daughter, arrives home after an absence of 23 years, with her lovesick brother-in-law Randall in tow. Even Hector struggles to escape Ariadne’s charms. Ellie Dunn -- a pragmatic, but poor young woman -- is engaged to Boss Mangan, the older, wealthy business tycoon. Hesione is determined to save her friend from a loveless marriage. Over the course of the evening, the party argues and flirts; people are hypnotized; a break-in is bungled; engagements are begun and canceled; and an air raid threatens to halt all their fun. Heartbreak House is one of George Bernard Shaw’s most beloved classics of the theatre. A delightful send-up of Edwardian society, Heartbreak House’s madcap cast of characters amuse, challenge, enchant, and ultimately delight all who spend their evening at the Shotover household.

Lead Characters

Heartbreak House guide sections