Adventures in Reading


The Playboy of the Western World and Other Plays by J.M. Synge
“Six yards of stuff to make a yellow gown. A pair of lace boots with lengthy heels on them and brassy eyes. A hat is suited for a wedding-day. A fine tooth comb. To be sent with three barrels of porter in Jimmy Farrell’s creel cart on the evening of the coming Fair to Mister Michael James Flaherty. With the best compliments of this season. Margaret Flaherty.”

Betwixt the Japanese literature I’ve been reading and in belated honor of St. Patrick’s day I finally got around to reading Synge’s play The Playboy of the Western World. Synge was an Irish playwright and I always read reference of him at the oddest times. The first I heard of him was in my 20th Century Irish Literature course and the play’s (I believe) first production has a very entertaining story attached where theatre goers nearly destroyed the theatre in reaction to Synge’s use of the word “shift” in the play.

The Playboy of the Western World is a story of small town Irish life in western Ireland. The playboy Christy believes he has murdered his father and is on the lam. However, this doesn’t stop him from telling his tell of woe at the first pub house he comes to. Rather than frightening the natives though it’s thrilling and Christy immediately becomes a town celebrity of sorts with lasses and widows alike chasing after him.

I don’t often read plays (this is my first since the beginning of Adventures) and I’m not quite sure why. Yes, it takes a bit longer for me to catch the rhythm versus, lets say, than if I read a novel. However, I actually do enjoy reading plays and Synge’s Playboy lived up to its reputation. The play is funny and honest but with surprising complexities for such a short work. If you loves plays and/or Ireland Synge is a terrific read.

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