In this book Nicholas Grene explores political contexts for some of the outstanding Irish plays from the nineteenth century to the contemporary period. The politics of Irish drama have previously been considered primarily the politics of national self-expression. Here it is argued that Irish plays, in their self-conscious representation of the otherness of Ireland, are outwardly directed towards audiences both at home and abroad. The political dynamics of such relations between plays and audiences is the book's multiple subject: the stage interpretation of Ireland from The Shaughraun to Translations; the contentious stage images of Yeats, Gregory and Synge; reactions to revolution from O'Casey to Behan; the post-colonial worlds of Purgatory and All that Fall; the imagined Irelands of Friel and Murphy, McGuinness and Barry. With its fundamental reconception of the politics of Irish drama, this book represents a new view of the phenomenon of Irish drama itself.
'Grene's intelligence, erudition and mostly jargon-free lucidity make this, in fact, the best survey of 20th-century Irish playwriting yet written. It completes so authoritatively, indeed, the job of telling one kind of story about modern Irish drama that it clears the ground for a whole new look at what that story is or might be.' Fintan O'Toole, The Irish Times '... lucid and provocative ... What is rewarding about Grene's elegantly and cleanly written book is his clear-sighted and rigorous analysis ... Grene provides one of the most engaging and challenging overviews of 20th century Irish drama.' Irish Theatre Magazine