This is a play I studied whilst at school; however since then it has made its way onto my favourites list.
I think one of the main things that keeps me coming back to this play to read over and over again is the reception that it received on its opening night in Ireland in 1907, when all kinds of objects were thrown at the actors whilst trying to perform. Back in this time it would have been an atrocious vulgar act to ever even dream of producing a play like this. This scenario in itself makes for a good read if you are ever interested in researching it.
The story itself is going to come across as quite far-fetched to many of you but I suppose that’s the way with a lot of plays. It is about a young man called Christy who arrives to his local pub one day claiming to have killed his father. Christy has been tormented for years by his father, but Christy also likes to tell a good tale and loves an audience. I won’t go into too much detail as I don’t want to ruin the plot but I can assure you all is not what it seems.
The language itself may take a bit of practice. For even an Irish person such as myself, it takes some concentration to work out parts of the dialect, but in my opinion that is half the fun!
Whilst there is this strong dialect, the play is also made up of almost poetics moments and the story is so appealing that it makes for a great read, so don’t let the language put you off. The theme is quite difficult to pin down. I would say it has elements of comedy, tragedy while also having a romantic side to it.
After reading the play you can appreciate why The Playboy of The Western World is seen as one of the all-time greats in Irish literature. It is something different to what you will usually see on the bestsellers list in a bookshop, but why not give it a go and see for yourself the beauty and magic of this story.