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Major Barbara

Major Barbara

Written by George Bernard Shaw

Narrated by Kate Burton and Roger Rees


Major Barbara

Written by George Bernard Shaw

Narrated by Kate Burton and Roger Rees

ratings:
4.5/5 (8 ratings)
Length:
1 hour
Released:
Mar 1, 2008
ISBN:
9781580815505
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Description

Barbara is a major in the Salvation Army - but she’s also the daughter of Andrew Undershaft, a man who’s made millions from the sale of weapons of war. The real battle, however, rages between between the devilish father and his idealistic daughter as they answer the question: does salvation come through faith or finance? This sparkling comedy traverses family relations, religion, ethics and politics - as only Shaw, the master dramatist, can!

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring J.B. Blanc, Kate Burton, Matthew Gaydos, Brian George, Hamish Linklater, Henri Lubatti, Kirsten Potter, Roger Rees, Russell Soder, Amelia White, Missy Yager and Sarah Zimmerman.
Released:
Mar 1, 2008
ISBN:
9781580815505
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook


About the author

George Bernard Shaw was born in Dublin in 1856 and moved to London in 1876. He initially wrote novels then went on to achieve fame through his career as a journalist, critic and public speaker. A committed and active socialist, he was one of the leaders of the Fabian Society. He was a prolific and much lauded playwright and was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. He died in 1950.


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Reviews

What people think about Major Barbara

4.3
8 ratings / 6 Reviews
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Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (2/5)
    I feel like the genius of the play's ideas merits more than 2 stars; HOWEVER, this wasn't an enjoyable read. Far from it. From hopelessly trying to decipher the writing style Shaw uses to portray the dialect of the poor to struggling to determine what exactly Shaw was recommending, I found it difficult to appreciate Major Barbara.

    What I think Shaw is trying to say is that only through wealth can we eradicate poverty. Which, in the case of Undershaft using his munitions factory to outfit potentially oppressed peoples with weapons, is valid. It's also valid since Undershaft's factory complex is a mini-socialist utopia where all the needs of the workers are met. But in reality, I don't agree with this "solution" to poverty. Unfortunately, most wealthy people aren't intelligent and kindly Undershafts. Most rich business owners work selfishly for themselves and fail to protect the needs of the poor.

    But then again, I may have completely missed the point of the play; I truly have no idea. Perhaps I would better appreciate this if I saw it staged. Then some of my problems--namely the unreadable dialect--would disappear. It's also rather funny in spots, and again, humor always translates better on stage.
  • (5/5)
    Wow is Shaw a master of putting a lot of provocative ideas in a short play. A young lady rejects society to try to save the bellies, livers, and souls of the poor - is she truly a good person? An arms manufacturer claims power over government to get them to make war so he can sell weapons to all who can pay - is he truly a bad person? Is the pragmatic matron or the idealistic professor more likely to hold sway over their own destinies? Or over the destinies of the others in the family?

    A line from the beginning that made me realize this polemic was going to be funny is spoken by the society matron, Barbara's mother, a strong & opinionated woman, Let snobbish people say what they please: Barbara shall marry, not the man they like, but the man *I* like."

    And an exchange from the end that reminds me of Oscar Wilde, first Lady B. again, "[You] ought to know better than to go about saying that wrong things are true. What does it matter whether they are true if they are wrong?" The arms merchant retorts, "What does it matter whether they are wrong if they are true?"

    What indeed? What is right? What is true? What is valuable? What do people need in this life, or in the hereafter? What is our duty to ourselves, to truth, to God, to our family, to our fellow man? Don't expect Shaw to tell you - he wants you to do the work to figure it out for yourself."
  • (2/5)
    A play that doesn't know whether it wants to be a light drawing-room comedy or a Greek tragedy. The juxtaposition of light and dark scenes just doesn't work.
  • (3/5)
    This is one weird play. None of the characters seem like real people and they are all obnoxious. The main theme is an interesting one: an argument betwixt right and wrong. Shaw points out that all money for organizations like the Salvation Army comes from the war-makers and booze-makers. What meaning does salvation have in this context? Also, how much does a salvation borne of starvation fed mean? It actually occurs to me that the dynamic between charity/morality and between industry/immorality is somewhat reminiscent of The Fountainhead.

    George Bernard Shaw has a fairly recognizable style. The most noticeable aspect is his scene setup. He describes the scene down to every last detail. Where Shakespeare plays have exceedingly brief notes, Shaw goes on for a page or two any time there is a location change. I really have trouble imagining how the scene change in the middle of the third act would be accomplished, since two very precise sets would need to be made.

    The other thing about Shaw that I noticed is that he is much like Wilde, only perhaps not so funny. Both Wilde and Shaw were born Irishman. Shaw moved to England as a young boy. Still, you can see his judgment of the English in his writing, which is why the characters are so irritating. Like Wilde, the humor in the story comes from the mocking of the English, particularly the upper crust.

    Best line, which comes after Undershaft tells Barbara that he saved her from the seven deadly sins:
    "Yes, the deadly seven. [Counting on his fingers.] Food, clothing, firing, rent, taxes, respectability and children."
    And yes, I do love this largely because children are listed as a deadly sin. How hilarious is that?
  • (4/5)
    Barbara, a major in the Salvation Army, is in the business of saving souls. Her father, a wealthy arms dealer, is in the business of war, death, and destruction. He sells weapons to anyone who wants them, without regard for the aims or ideals of the buyer.The conflict between Barbara and her father is at the heart of this play, which addresses social and philosophical questions in a brilliant and witty manner.This play made me both laugh and think, which had to be exactly Shaw's intention.
  • (5/5)
    What a fantastic play. Although I expected not to enjoy this, I thoroughly loved it. It was funny and thought provoking. How I would love to know how his contemporaries reviewed the play to elicit such a long, defensive introduction.