This is a solo recording of the play, meaning that all parts including stage directions are performed by one person. LibriVox has three excellent dramatic recordings with all the parts played by different people so if that is more to your taste, please listen to them.
Little needs to be said about the play itself, a sparkling example of Wilde's amazing ability to poke fun at almost everyone while making you laugh out loud at the witty sayings sprinkled throughout the acts. As to the plot, if you don't know it already, let me just say that it involves two young English men who fall madly and instantly in love with two young English.women who of course love them back mainly because their name is Earnest. Unfortunately, that is not their names and there are many bumps and crashes on the road to the happy wedding bells. I only hope I have done justice to this jewel of a play. Please listen and enjoy !
In this most popular of all Oscar Wilde’s plays, two fashionable bachelors, Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, discover that each has been simplifying his social obligations via the use of a convenient false persona. Their comfortable white lies suddenly lead to chaos when romance enters the picture in the form of the lovely Gwendolyn Fairfax and the innocent Cecily Cardew. Hilarity ensues as the bachelors attempt to quickly untangle the web of their deceptions in order to win the lady of their choice and withstand the scrutiny of the formidable Lady Bracknell.
George Bernard Shaw
Arms and the Man is a comedy written by George Bernard Shaw, and was first produced in 1894 and published in 1898, and has become one of the most popular of his plays. Like his other works, Arms and the Man questions conventional values and uses war and love as his satirical targets. He delightfully pops the bubble of the 'brave soldier' always wishing to charge into battle and shows (I think) how people stay the same whether in uniform or not and are not magically changed into different people. A cautious soldier can be just as admirable as a reckless one.
An outbreak of plague in London forces a gentleman, Lovewit, to flee temporarily to the country, leaving his house under the sole charge of his butler, Jeremy. Jeremy uses the opportunity given to him to use the house as the headquarters for fraudulent acts. He transforms himself into 'Captain Face', and enlists the aid of Subtle, a fellow conman and Dol Common, a prostitute. In The Alchemist, Jonson unashamedly satirizes the follies, vanities and vices of mankind, most notably greed-induced credulity. People of all social classes are subject to Jonson's ruthless, satirical wit. He mocks human weakness and gullibility to advertising and to "miracle cures" with the character of Sir Epicure Mammon, who dreams of drinking the elixir of youth and enjoying fantastic sexual conquests. The Alchemist focuses on what happens when one human being seeks advantage over another. In a big city like London, this process of advantage-seeking is rife. The trio of con-artists - Subtle, Face and Dol - are self-deluding small-timers, ultimately undone by the same human weaknesses they exploit in their victims.
The Proposal is a one act comic farce by Anton Chekhov. In Chekhov's Russia, marriage was a means of economic stability for most people. They married to gain wealth and possessions. In this play, the concept of marriage is being satirized to show the real purpose of marriage - materialistic gain rather than true love.
Lady Windermere's Fan: A Play About a Good Woman is a four act comedy by Oscar Wilde, published in 1893. As in some of his other comedies, Wilde satirizes the morals of Victorian society, and attitudes between the sexes.
The action centres around a fan given to Lady Windermere as a present by her husband, and the ball held that evening to celebrate her 21st birthday.
W. S. Gilbert
In this recording, one person reads the entire play, all parts, including the stage directions. Even without the support of Arthur Sullivan’s music and the interpretation of actors, the consummate silliness of Gilbert’s libretto entertains. The Mikado; or, The Town of Titipu is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert, their ninth of fourteen operatic collaborations. It opened on 14 March 1885, in London, where it ran at the Savoy Theatre for 672 performances, which was the second longest run for any work of musical theatre and one of the longest runs of any theatre piece up to that time. Before the end of 1885, it was estimated that, in Europe and America, at least 150 companies were producing the opera. The Mikado remains the most frequently performed Savoy Opera, and it is especially popular with amateur and school productions. The work has been translated into numerous languages and is one of the most frequently played musical theatre pieces in history. Setting the opera in Japan, an exotic locale far away from Britain, allowed Gilbert to satirise British politics and institutions more freely by disguising them as Japanese
W. S. Gilbert
In this recording, one person reads the entire play, all parts, including the stage directions. Even without the support of Arthur Sullivan’s music and the interpretation of actors, the consummate silliness of Gilbert’s libretto entertains.
H.M.S. Pinafore; or, The Lass That Loved a Sailor is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and a libretto by W. S. Gilbert. It opened at the Opera Comique in London, England, on 25 May 1878 and ran for 571 performances, which was the second-longest run of any musical theatre piece up to that time. H.M.S. Pinafore was Gilbert and Sullivan's fourth operatic collaboration and their first international sensation.
The story takes place aboard the British ship HMS Pinafore. The captain's daughter, Josephine, is in love with a lower-class sailor, Ralph Rackstraw, although her father intends her to marry Sir Joseph Porter, the First Lord of the Admiralty. She abides by her father's wishes at first, but Sir Joseph's advocacy of the equality of humankind encourages Ralph and Josephine to overturn conventional social order. They declare their love for each other and eventually plan to elope. The captain discovers this plan, but, as in many of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas, a surprise disclosure changes things dramatically near the end of the story.
Drawing on several of his earlier "Bab Ballad" poems, Gilbert imbued this plot with mirth and silliness. The opera's humour focuses on love between members of different social classes and lampoons the British class system in general. Pinafore also pokes good-natured fun at patriotism, party politics, the Royal Navy, and the rise of unqualified people to positions of authority. The title of the piece comically applies the name of a garment for girls and women, a pinafore, to the fearsome symbol of a naval warship.
Pinafore's extraordinary popularity in Britain, America and elsewhere was followed by the similar success of a series of Gilbert and Sullivan works, including The Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado. Their works, later known as the Savoy operas, dominated the musical stage on both sides of the Atlantic for more than a decade and continue to be performed today. The structure and style of these operas, particularly Pinafore, were much copied and contributed significantly to the development of modern musical theatre.
Barrie, J. M.
From the author of Peter Pan:
Lord Loam, a British peer, considers class divisions to be artificial. He promotes his views during tea-parties where servants mingle with his aristocratic guests, to the embarrassment of all. Crichton, his butler, particularly disapproves of this.
Loam, his family, a maid, and Crichton are shipwrecked on a deserted tropical island. The resourceful Crichton is the only one of the party with any practical knowledge. Eventually, social roles are reversed, and Crichton becomes the governor. (Intro from Wikipedia and TriciaG)
'Monsieur de Pourceaugnac', acted on October 6, 1669, is nothing but a farce. But Molière excels in farce as well as in higher comedy, and 'Monsieur de Pourceaugnac' is one of the best of its kind. The attacks upon the doctors of the time are not exaggerated. Molière acted the part of Mr. de Pourceaugnac.
George Bernard Shaw
.Mrs. Warren's Profession is a play written by George Bernard Shaw in 1893, and first performed in London in 1902 but was banned after two performances because of the profession talked about. The play is about a former prostitute, now a madam (brothel proprietor), who attempts to come to terms with her disapproving daughter. It illustrates Shaw's belief that the act of prostitution was not caused by moral failure but by economic necessity. It also has a lot to say about the hypocrisy of English society that profited from many despised and illegal professions and used people in despicable ways but pretended to look down on them. This was probably why it was banned, not because of the 'profession' of Mrs. Warren, but because it exposed very highly placed people doing nasty things to make money.
George Bernard Shaw
This play tells the story of Candida, the wife of a famous clergyman, the Reverend James Mavor Morell. Morell is a Christian Socialist, popular in the Church of England, but Candida is responsible for much of his success. Candida returns home briefly from a trip to London with Eugene Marchbanks, a young poet who wants to rescue her from what he presumes to be her dull family life.Marchbanks is in love with Candida and believes she deserves something more than just complacency from her husband. He considers her divine, and his love eternal. In his view, it is quite improper and humiliating for Candida to have to attend to petty household chores. Morell believes Candida needs his care and protection, but the truth is quite the contrary. Ultimately, Candida must choose between the two gentlemen. She reasserts her preference for the "weaker of the two" who, after a momentary uncertainty, turns out to be her husband Morell. Note that the pronunciation of Candida is how Shaw himself preferred it be pronounced. [wikipedia and phil chenevert]
George Bernard Shaw
In this witty comedy of errors, the Clandon siblings, Gloria and the twins, Dolly and Philip attempt to uncover the identity of their long lost father. Playwright George Bernard Shaw uses the odd mix of eccentric characters thrown together in a seaside setting to make a number of sharp observations about marriage, romance, and parenthood.
This is Thomas Holcroft's English translation, obtained by attending Pierre Beaumarchais' French play nine times in Paris during its original official staging in 1784. Beaumarchais' play was the basis for Mozart's 1796 opera, and is a satire about lovers' misdoings and French society. Because of its rebellious themes, presented during the troubling times leading up to the French Revolution, Beaumarchais had a very difficult time getting his play past the censors. Once staged, the play was enormously popular with audiences, including the aristocracy despite their understanding of the underlying themes. It was shocking that an commoner could contend directly with a nobleman. Louis XVI was not amused with Beaumarchais and imprisoned him for a few days. In our play, staged in London in 1785, Figaro is engaged to be married to Susan, who has caught the eye of Count Almaviva . . . (Holcroft Anglicized Suzanne's name so that English audiences would better accept her.) The Marriage is part of a trilogy, following The Barber of Seville and preceding The Guilty Mother.
These short comic parodies of five well-known tragedies by Henrik Ibsen originally appeared in Punch, the British humor magazine. From the prefatory note: "The author is conscious that his imitation is painfully lacking in the mysterious obscurity of the original, that the vein of allegorical symbolism is thinner throughout than it should be, and that the characters are not nearly so mad as persons invariably are in real life—but these are the faults inevitable to a prentice hand, and he trusts that due allowances may be made for them by the critical."
Lady Windermere's Fan, A Play About a Good Woman is a four-act comedy by Oscar Wilde, first produced 22 February 1892 at the St James's Theatre in London. The play was first published in 1893. Like many of Wilde's comedies, it bitingly satirizes the morals of Victorian society, particularly marriage.
The story concerns Lady Windermere, who discovers that her husband may be having an affair with another woman. She confronts her husband but he instead invites the other woman, Mrs Erlynne, to his wife's birthday ball. Angered by her husband's unfaithfulness, Lady Windermere leaves her husband for another lover. Or does she? Is it really possible to trust delicious gossip? Are all men really bad? These and many other questions are raised and if not answered, then held up for public scrutiny in this biting satire of morals and proper behavior. The best known line of the play sums up the central theme:
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
—Lord Darlington (from Wikipedia and the reader)
Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol
The Governor and Officials of a small provincial town in Russia are worried. They have received word that a Government Inspector is on his way. As they do what they can to cover up their own corruption and incompetence, a man arrives at the Inn and refuses to pay for his meals. Surely such an audacious act can only be the work of the dreaded Inspector!
Meanwhile Khlestakov, a common copying clerk from St. Petersburg who has lost all his money at cards, is attempting to bluff and bully the landlord of the Inn he is staying at into giving him one more free meal. He is scared and confused when the Governor comes to confront him, but his tendency to tell fantastic lies and brag about his imaginary illustrious friends turns the situation to his advantage.
This blistering satire by Gogol looks at the way greed and corruption make fools of ordinary men, and ordinary fools into even greater fools. Both funny and adroit, this is a sadly accurate portrayal of small-town (and large-city) politics the world over.
Lamentably this play contains some instances of anti-Semitism.
The Imaginary Invalid (French: Le Malade imaginaire) is a three-act comédie-ballet by the French playwright Molière. It was first performed in 1673 and was the last work he wrote. In an ironic twist of fate, Molière collapsed during his fourth performance as Argan on 17 February and died soon after.
Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name Molière, was a French playwright and actor who is considered to be one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature. Among Molière's best-known works is Tartuffe or The Hypocrite, written in 1664. Though Tartuffe was received well by the public and even by Louis XIV, its popularity was lessened when the Archbishop of Paris issued an edict threatening excommunication for anyone who watched, performed in, or read the play.
Tartuffe, a pious fraud who pretends to speak with divine authority, has insinuated himself into the household of Orgon. When Orgon announces that his daughter Mariane is to marry Tartuffe instead of her fiance Valère, the rest of the family realizes the extent of Tartuffe's influence over Orgon. Tartuffe tries to seduce Orgon's wife Elmire, who traps him into revealing to Orgon his intentions toward her. Orgon throws Tartuffe out of the house, Tartuffe returns with an order of eviction for the family, and at the final moment the tables are turned and the play ends happily.
One of the most notorious Restoration comedies in existence, William Wycherley’s The Country Wife is a lively and riotous exploration of courtly and city life in the seventeenth century, which was rife with unremitting sexual intrigue and conquest. For the basis of his plot, Wycherley here borrows heavily from the work of Molière, but abandons the French master’s unity and economy by introducing several interlocking storylines and characters, all of them clamoring for attention amidst Wycherley’s hard-hitting colloquial dialogue and double entendres. The main plot follows the clever town rake Horner, who feigns impotence in order to seduce women of quality and cuckold their unwitting husbands. One woman who takes interest in him is Margery, a seemingly naive country girl married to the pathologically jealous Pinchwife. Her desire to pursue an illicit affair with Horner yields a multitude of complications and misunderstandings, many of which are left scandalously unresolved by the time the final line is spoken.
With startlingly frank explorations of gender dynamics, marital structures, female autonomy, misogyny, and seventeenth-century societal obligations, as well as an infamous “china scene” positively dripping with innuendo, The Country Wife remains a classic of its genre that continues to invite fresh and exciting interpretations with each new performance.
Two young people, Henriette and Clitandre, are in love, but in order to marry, they must overcome an obstacle: the attitude of Henriette's family. Her sensible father and uncle are in favour of the marriage; but unfortunately her father is under the thumb of his wife, Philaminte, Henriette's mother. And Philaminte, supported by Henriette's aunt and sister, wishes her to marry Trissotin, a "scholar" and mediocre poet with lofty aspirations, who has these three women completely in his thrall. For these three ladies are "learned"; their obsession in life is learning and culture of the most pretentious kind, and Trissotin is their special protégé and the fixture of their literary salon.
"Cynthia's Revels," the second "comical satire," was acted in 1600, and, as a play, is even more lengthy, elaborate, and impossible than "Every Man Out of His Humour." Here personal satire seems to have absorbed everything, and while much of the caricature is admirable, especially in the detail of witty and trenchantly satirical dialogue, the central idea of a fountain of self-love is not very well carried out, and the persons revert at times to abstractions, the action to allegory. [Let's see if you agree!]
The History of Troilus and Cressida has long baffled critics and audiences alike for its inconsistent tone, which ranges from bawdy comedy to somber tragedy, as well as its decidedly unheroic and unsympathetic cast of characters. It is also a work with a multivalent focus, jumping between different subplots and locations so that even the titular characters become lost in the shuffle of warcraft, manipulation, betrayal, and thwarted machismo. Not only do we follow the young Trojan warrior Troilus on his quest to woo the noncommittal Cressida, but also the Greek leader Agamemnon and his plot to sway the proud Achilles into battle, as well as the scurrilous fool Thersites, who rails against the hypocrisy of everyone involved in a war born (and continued) out of vanity and a bunch of overactive libidos. It is a play that caustically skewers the romance and valour of the Trojan War, as told by the likes of Homer, Chaucer, and Lydgate, while experimenting with the dramatic form in such a way that modern resonances can be found even today.
"In The Old Bachelor we have three or four concurrent plots, which become interwoven, indeed, at the end.... It is recorded that the successive unmasking of four beautiful women gave the audience such delight that they burst into a thunder of applause.
"Here, then, was a play compounded of quite familiar elements, and attempting nothing in the least new or ambitious in technic.... But each of the actions was clear, spirited, and suited to the taste of the day; and the familiarity of the material was redeemed by the novel vivacity of the author's wit."
W. S. Gilbert
Pinafore’s sublimely silly story is made even sillier by this (ostensibly for children) 1908 story version of the 1878 Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. Gilbert, the author of the operetta’s lyrics, writes this version of the story with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek. Most adults and children will find this version vastly amusing.
Young Laroon plans to marry Isabel, but Father Martin manipulates Isabel's father, Jourdain, in order to seduce Isabel. However, other characters, including both of the Laroons, try to manipulate Jourdain for their own ends; they accomplish it through disguising themselves as priests and using his guilt to convince him of what they say. As Father Martin pursues Isabel, she is clever enough to realize what is happening and plans her own trap. After catching him and exposing his lust, Father Martin is set to be punished.