The Burglar: a play and a preface

The Burglar: a play and a preface - Brigid Brophy [These notes were made in 1984:]. From the very front cover (which proclaims "A Play and a Preface"), we are reminded that Brophy is a great admirer of Shaw. And indeed, in its superior brilliance to the play, its weighty subjects, biting paradoxes and serious playfulness, the Preface is tremendously reminiscent of Shaw. I particularly liked one section entitled "Women Impersonate Women," which moves delightfully from a mock apology for being female to "I obdurately insist on believing that some men are my equals." Besides feminism, Brophy also sweeps through literary criticism and the penal system. The play is a five-hander, a set of two swapping couples, and the Puritanical burglar who beholds them in horror. Plenty of room for epigram and discussion about crime and punishment here. The conclusion is inventive: the couples end up 'curing' the burglar by giving him everything (Brophy is quick to disclaim any crypto-Christianity), but it is the means to the end, the five talking heads in various combinations, that provide the amusement. This play could be fairly easily coverted for radio, I should think - action is not its mainspring; nor, for that matter, is characterization, except possibly in the case of the Burglar.