Devil's Disciple [1959]

The Devil's Disciple is not generally considered one of George Bernard Shaw's best plays, but it may be among his most enjoyable. In a New England village during the Revolutionary War, disreputable and self-proclaimed Devil's disciple Richard Dudgeon (Mike Gwilym) finds himself inheriting the bulk of his father's estate, much to the fury of his estranged mother (Elizabeth Spriggs, Sense and Sensibility). But when British soldiers mistake Dudgeon for the Reverend Anthony Anderson (Patrick Stewart, Star Trek: The Next Generation) and arrest him as a rebel, Dudgeon goes along with the error and consents to be hanged in Anderson's place--forcing Anderson's wife Judith (Susan Woolridge, Hope and Glory) to decide whether to save a man she loathes at the cost of her husband's life. The Devil's Disciple starts slowly, but the tension mounts steadily, as does the humor. The courtroom debate between Dudgeon and the cynical General Burgoyne (Ian Richardson, Gormenghast) is rife with Shaw's typical wit and paradoxes--but the rise of feeling between Dudgeon and Judith give the production an emotional kick many Shaw plays lack. The DVD also includes a BBC special, in which Christopher Plummer and others recite classic passages from Shaw's plays and letters. --Bret Fetzer

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