Hong Kong Speaking Union
- (二) 16-10-2018 7:15 PM - 2 小时
The play this month: The Devil’s Disciple by George Bernard Shaw
The Devil's Disciple is an 1897 play written by Irish dramatist George Bernard Shaw. The play is Shaw's eighth and, as a result of Richard Mansfield’s original 1897 American production, it was his first financial success and helped to affirm his career as a playwright. It was published in Shaw's 1901 collection Three Plays for Puritans together with Captain Brassbound’s Conversion and Caesar and Cleopatra.
The Devil’s Disciple is set in Colonial America at a turning point of the American Revolution, as the British army attempts to crack down on the local militias of the independence movement. The play follows Richard ‘Dick’ Dudgeon, the rakish reprobate of the play’s title, who becomes an unlikely hero . In Websterbridge, New Hampshire, Richard’s wild ways contrast sharply with the Puritanical piety of the townspeople. His family disowns him, his mother curses him - not that Richard minds in the least - and he seems to revel in the nickname ‘The Devil’s Disciple’. Only Anthony Anderson, the affable, open-minded Presbyterian minister, welcomes him into his home, much to his wife Judith’s disapproval. When British soldiers arrive to arrest the clergyman, Dick is mistaken for him.
Instead of revealing the truth, he finds himself incapable of allowing another human being to suffer, and continues to masquerade as Anderson. The minister's wife, Judith, is moved by Dick's actions, and mistakenly interprets them as an expression of love for her. In spite of his protestations, she becomes romantically attracted to him. Brought before British commander General Burgoyne, Dudgeon displays his willingness to die for his principles. He is motivated by his own personal ethics at this point, which are sharply contrasted with what Shaw sees as the narrow-minded moralistic world-view of the American Puritans.
The Devil’s Disciple was Shaw’s first major theatrical success following his career change from drama critic to playwright. Other early plays such as Mrs Warren’s Profession were either banned by the censor or failed to find critical approval. Film adaptations in 1957 and 1987 and regular productions also helped to popularise the play over time. Filled with Shaw’s classic wit and paradoxical characters, the play continues to amuse, provoke, and surprise audiences over a hundred years later and remains a popular work in the repertoire.
Please do join us at 7.15 at The Fringe Club for the October play-reading. We look forward to seeing you again or meeting you if you are a new play-reader and wish to participate. You will be very welcome.
Guest Facilitator: Michael Brooks; Facilitator: Mike Ingham