The Music Cure

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The Music Cure
George Bernard Shaw 1934-12-06.jpg
Written by George Bernard Shaw
Date premiered 28 January, 1914
Place premiered Little Theatre in the Adelphi, London
Original language English
Subject A weak-willed politician falls in love with a domineering pianist
Genre satire
Setting "A hotel drawing room"

The Music Cure, a Piece of Utter Nonsense (1913) is a short comedy sketch by George Bernard Shaw, satirising therapeutic fads of the era and the Marconi scandal of 1912.

Characters

  • Lord Reginald Fitzambey
  • Dr Dawkins
  • Strega Thundridge

Plot

Lord Reginald Fitzambey, Under-Secretary of State for War, is in a distressed state. He explains to his doctor that he had bought shares in the "Macaroni Trust", knowing that the British army would soon be put on a vegetarian diet. Brought before a parliamentary committee for profiteering, he tried to explain that macaroni was a normal investment. Now he is highly sensitised to anything distressing. His doctor prescribes rest, and offers him opium pills. A woman starts to play the piano, causing Reginald to scream. The woman turns out to be famous pianist Strega Thundridge, employed by Reginald's mother at considerable cost, to play in the room for two hours to soothe Reginald's nerves. Despite the obvious fact that she's having the opposite effect Strega carries on playing. Reginald finds himself powerfully attracted to her, but when he tries to make a pass at her, she starts playing Chopin, which causes convulsions in Reginald. She then restores his vitality with a stirring Polonaise. Reginald, who adores dominant women, is now hopelessly in love with Strega. He begs her to marry him, so that she can dominate him completely. She accepts, having always dreamed of meeting a man who was utterly in thrall to her.

Production and reception

Shaw said that the piece was not intended as a "serious play", but was rather "what is called a variety turn for two musicians."[1] It was first performed at the Little Theatre in London as curtain raiser to G. K. Chesterton's play Magic on 28 January 1914. Magic was Chesterton's first play. He had been pushed into writing a play by Shaw. In Chesterton's play there is a comment about the Marconi Company, which is a reference to the fact that Chesterton's brother had been prosecuted for libel during the Marconi scandal after he criticised government ministers for allegedly corrupt deals in Marconi shares.[2] Hence the reference to "Macaroni" shares in Shaw's play.

Shaw felt that the play was a disaster, saying in a letter to Lillah McCarthy that it was "abominable trash" and "simply unbearable" to watch in performance.[3] Critic Homer E. Woodbridge says that the play is one of Shaw's worst: "The Fascinating Foundling and The Music Cure, another topical skit dealing with the Marconi scandal, vie in flatness with Passion, Poison and Petrifaction; both are really beneath criticism."[4]

References

  1. ^ Broad, C Lewis and Broad, Violet, Dictionary to the Plays and Novels of Bernard Shaw, A. & C. Black, London, 1929, pp.67.
  2. ^ Langford, David, "Introduction" to G.K. Chesterton, Magic, English Language Society, 1987.
  3. ^ Holroyd, Michael, Bernard Shaw: 1898–1918: The pursuit of power, Chatto & Windus, 1989, p.269
  4. ^ Homer E. Woodbridge, George Bernard Shaw: Creative Artist, Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale, IL., p.92.
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