Composers and their stage works 

A Hard Heart

Howard Barker

War, an overriding theme of Howard Barker plays, continues in A Hard Heart where a Greek city is under siege and its queen, Praxis, appeals to the architect Riddler to save them. Riddler, like Clarissa in Seven Lears, is arrogant, imperious, and a rationalist. By the play's end she will have been, in some measure, humbled by Seemore, a man of the streets who challenges her self-sufficient coldness and, in a parody of the Pluto and Proserpine myth, tries to drag her into the sewers to escape and be reborn. But Riddler's descent does not signal a subtle misogyny. Riddler has been stage-centre throughout the play, with a series of daring schemes to fool the enemy. They fail, not through her stupidity, but through the treachery of her son, Attila, the only person she loves and whom, through special pleading, she has preserved from military service and starvation. No characters are immune from the upheaval of passion into their ordered lives. Their hubris is that they imagine they are.