House of the Rising Gun

The Rep's latest production of Shaw's antiwar classic reminds us that Berkeley isn't the radical place it used to be

David Chandler and Matt Gottlieb in Berkeley Rep's latest production of Heartbreak House.
Kevin Berne
David Chandler and Matt Gottlieb in Berkeley Rep's latest production of Heartbreak House.

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Through Oct. 14, tickets are $33-69; call 510-647-2949 or visit www.berkeleyrep.org
At Berkeley Repertory Theatre, 2025 Addison (at Shattuck), Berkeley.

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Just when we're feeling so thoroughly chastised by Shaw's drama that we're considering flying to Washington and impaling ourselves on the railings outside the White House in protest against the war in Iraq, Waters' production abruptly changes gear. The final act of Heartbreak House is a challenge for any director with its apocalyptic turn of events followed by whimpering anticlimax. By removing the entire set between Acts 2 and 3 and staging the final scenes in a barren, post-Holocaustlike twilight, Waters certainly captures the essence of Shaw's doomsday message. But the jolting mood swing and long, clunky scene change has the unfortunate effect of allowing the spirit of revolution that Waters' production has so carefully built up in us over two acts to slip quietly away. We exit the theater feeling thoughtful, slightly disoriented, and maybe even a little heartbroken. The Lexus RX 400h runs like a dream along those leafy Berkeley streets as we all head home to our studios in the clouds.

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