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ELT 48 : 4 2005 written and presented a radio program on Shaw as music critic. He has also been invited by Penguin Books to write the introduction to Candida as part of a new series celebrating Shaw's 150th anniversary in 2006. Gahan adds to these distinguished accomplishments a study whose scope and tenor bring a fresh perspective to Shaw's work and which offers significant new paradigms for Shaw studies. "The Shaw text is multivalent and polysemous," Gahan observes, and one suspects that many Shaw texts—beyond the handful discussed in Shaw Shadows— would lend themselves to poststructuralist shadowing. MICHEL W. PHARAND __________________ Hokkaido Bunkyo University Playboys: Production Histories Adrian Frazier, ed. Playboys of the Western World: Production Histories. Dublin: Carysfort Press, 2004. xiv + 182 pp. Paper $34.95 GARRY HYNES co-founded Galway's Druid Theatre in 1975, and, apart from a stint at the Abbey in Dublin from 1991-1994, she has remained its artistic director. Her 2004 production of Synge's The Playboy of the Western World was the initial phase of "DruidSynge," a project to stage the Synge canon over two years. In turn, the production οι Playboy provided the impetus for a conference on that play held in Galway in February 2004, and the conference has yielded the present book. It is a collection of five essays devoted to previous Playboy productions (both theatrical and cinematic), together with a roundtable discussion of and eight reactions to Hynes's production. The concept is interesting; however , the result does not live up to its potential. Not surprisingly, most of the past productions of Playboy covered in the first five essays originated in Ireland (both Eire and Northern Ireland ), although some attention is paid to London and America, as well as to the film starring Siobhán McKenna. "The First Playboy" by Paige Reynolds traverses the familiar first production in Dublin in 1907 and the riots it sparked. There is some attempt to particularize the nature and cause of the riots, although it could have been noted that riots (for various reasons) were not unusual elsewhere in the theatre (for example , in London and the U.S.). However, given the space available, the topic proves too large for a thorough examination, and points such as the following seem to argue against Reynolds's thesis: "Accounts of the riots underscore the notion that the audience mistook representation for reality and, consequently, conflated the stage and the stalls. On Wednes462 BOOK REVIEWS day night, for instance, when the third act began and Philly declared, 'There will be right sport before night will fall,' one press account asserted , 'This was so very apropos to the exciting situation that all the parties in the theatre joined in an outburst of hearty laughter.'" The reaction of Belfast audiences to Playboy early in the twentieth century (Ophelia Byrnes's subject) is probably less well known, and there is evidence here of original research. Byrnes touches on geographical and political factors that differentiated responses in Belfast from those in Dublin, but again several features of this theatrical landscape were not peculiar to either city. Moreover, the force of ideas here is reduced by careless writing (and sloppy editing) as evinced by such tautologies as "comparative difference," "modus operandi operation," and "still present, even now." "Production history documents a transformation over time of Synge's play from an abrasive polemic into, especially in American hands, a cloying comedy of indeterminate import"; this is the subject of John Harrington 's brief investigation of how Playboy has fared in America, and how it has sometimes provoked unintended associations. (I suspect the latter observation might be said of virtually any play in revival.) He sees Playboy as having passed through three phases: it was first an "incendiary" piece which then came to be viewed as "high art" with an emphasis on its poetic qualities. Nowadays, the play is viewed as "incomprehensible," or merely "exotic." The editor of the book, Adrian Frazier, provides a conversationally written ragbag of interesting material surrounding the 1961 film of Playboy in which Siobhán McKenna starred as Pegeen Mike. It is refreshing to read Frazier's candid assessment that the film "is very bad...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 462-464
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
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