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For the reader (as well as for the performers) Shaw gives elaborate stage directions, they include not only a detailed description of the decor of the stage, the exact property needed but also the character analysis. In this Act, every detail of the bedroom is given so that we are at once to see the lack of taste the woman display in the choice of furnishings and artifacts she has in the room.
As the play opens we learn about Raina's romantic nature. We learn she is rich as she is covered by "a mantle of furs, worth on a moderate estimate, about three times the furniture of her room." In a single sentence Shaw tells us that "Catherine Petkoff, a woman over forty, imperiously energetic, with magnificent black hair and eyes, who might be a very splendid specimen of the wife of a mountain farmer, but is determined to be a Viennese lady, and to that end wears a fashionable tea gown on all occasions".
The play begins with excitement. Bulgaria has won a victory over the Serbs under the leadership of Sergius, Raina's lover. Raina expresses all the emotions appropriate for a romantic girl. She wonders if she is worthy of Sergius, she is happy that all she had imagined about Sergius has come true and she also feels remorse that there were moments of doubt about the heroism of her lover. The fact that she doubted the heroism of Sergius is in her favor as it shows that she has a practical side to her nature.
Right away there is a lot of activity after the announcement of the victory. There are gunshots and reports of Serbians retreating through the town with Russian troops following to capture them. On stage there is activity, as Catherina and Louka, the maidservant, enter Raina's room to shut all the doors and windows to safeguard Raina. In a sweeping statement Shaw tells us about Louka's appearance as well as her nature. She is a pretty proud insolent Bulgarian girl who lacks servility. Notice the skillful management of plot : Louka tells Raina that the bolt of the shutter in the balcony is missing thus preparing us for the plausibility of the fugitive's entrance from the balcony. Raina is elated since her lover has proved to be all that heroism means. When Catherine wishes her goodnight she says, "Wish me joy. This is the happiest night of my life - if only there are no fugitives." Ironically, it proves to be the happiest night of her life because there is a fugitive. The reader or the audience is now in suspense as they hear gunshots and Raina darkens the room. We know the balcony shutter is not bolted.