Thoughts at the Abbey

We went to see Roddy Doyle’s Playboy at the Abbey this weekend. I recommend it to anyone who hasn’t yet been.

It sparked two thoughts. The first was: boy, do we do theatre well in this country. I often leave the Abbey or Gate feeling this way, and my wife tells me I am getting boring on the subject. But it is nice, amid all the ‘world class’ blather we are subjected to, to go to something in Dublin that really is world class.

The second was this. Doyle’s reworking of the Playboy is very Celtic Tiger, not just because of the Nigerian Christy Mahon, but because of its underlying cultural assumptions. Synge has Mahon enter a typical Irish peasant community, and because they are a typical Irish peasant community, they look up to someone who has broken the law to the extent of having killed his father. I guess Doyle didn’t think that he could plausibly carry this off in a play set in modern Ireland, and so he has Mahon show up on the doorstep of a Dublin gangland family. In the context of an Ireland which has had its own state for 80 years, in which there are no post-colonial hangups about the law, and in which we no longer look up to people who cheat the system in various ways, since we are a Republic now, and are all in this together, this was a very clever move.

Interestingly, the Anglo-Irish Bank corporate logo was prominently displayed on the programme.

4 thoughts on “Thoughts at the Abbey”

  1. and in which we no longer look up to people who cheat the system in various ways, since we are a Republic now, and are all in this together

    On the public looking up to “people who cheat the system”, I’d refer back to FF’s electoral successes of the past thirty years. As to the “all in this together”, I’d say the same.

  2. I have to hold with EWI on this one without being party political but there is still a tolerance of wrongdoing at the highest level in this country.

    Not being over political again but only part of Ireland has its own republic. Pretending the north was not a part of the nation has not worked as indeed trying to force others to be part of the nation. Thats one of our post colonial hang ups though.

    Focussing on Roddy. I saw him speak about this play a while ago where he talked about how fantastic it was to have nigerian people in the audience watching nigerians on stage playing in an Irish theatre. The point got a bit involved with Roddy repeating the word fantastic over and over. I am sure it was but I think he got carried away with the cleverness of his own idea but he never got across why it was fantastic.
    It just was apparently. Kinda lost some of my respect for him after that evening. He seemed to be a bit of a lovey rather than an edgy writer and his idea of having a Nigerian play the lead role which seemed so edgy and innovative was actually very conformist and correct.

  3. I have seen it twice- once with an Economics Nobel laureate as it happens -who I think may have missed a lot of the Dubbelin humour.

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