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When Roscoe, a 65-year-old Cervantes scholar, runs off with a young woman named Sally, he decides to stay a while in her family home. Soon he discovers that Sally’s house—once inhabited by James Dean; perched precariously over the San Fernando valley—is filled with secrets, sadness, and haunted women who cannot leave themselves or anyone else in peace. From Lucy, Sally’s suspicious sister, to Mable, their Shakespeare-quoting invalid mother, to Elizabeth, Mable’s lovely and mysteriously mute nurse, the forces of the house conspire to make Roscoe question his assumptions about everything. As scars and histories are revealed, Shepard shows, as only he can, what happens when the secrets simmering within a family boil over. Heartless masterfully explores the irrevocability of our pasts—and the possibility of life begun anew.
“The wonder and charm of Heartless come from the very real passion behind it and the poetry within it.” —The Village Voice
“The playwright’s most inspired and imaginative work in years. . . . Shepard’s poetic sense of the absurdities of human congress is pitch perfect and the drama never flags.” —The Huffington Post
“As much as any American playwright, Mr. Shepard understands that every family is insane in its own special way. . . . [He] has secured his place in the hall of fame for portraits of domestic dementia.” —The New York Times
“Surreal and haunting.” —Newsday
"Spookily engrossing. . . . The play is full of silences that have the force of poetry." —Bloomberg News
"Pure Shepard. . . . There are great, tantalizing lines like, 'Another fable in the Los Angeles canon of hysterical imaginings,' which may be a description of the play itself." —The Philadelphia Inquirer