Jonathan, Jack, and GBS: Four Plays about Irish History and Literature
John O'Donovan (1921-85) - Irish playwright, journalist, scholar, broadcaster, raconteur, and wit - has been described as "the despair of his enemies, the delight of his friends, and sometimes vice versa." He was probably the most witty, literate, and learned Irish dramatist to appear after the Second World War; and the four plays contained in this volume present him at his most thoughtful, ribald, and moving. His Abbey Theatre play Copperfaced Jack is a rich tragicomedy about the tormented and Falstaffian Lord Clonmell in the turbulent revolutionary years following 1798. His Abbey play The Shaws of Synge Street is about the tumultuous and musical family and friends of the young Bernard Shaw. His radio play The Fiddler and the Dean is an imaginative reconstruction of a dialogue between Handel (who gave the first performance of The Messiah in Dublin) and Dean Swift (who was unwilling to let his choristers take part in Messiah). Carlotta, a late play here published for the first time, is an informed four-hander between the mature George Bernard Shaw, his wife, his sister, and his unruly and vivid leading lady - Mrs. Patrick Campbell. Taken together, these four plays offer persuasive evidence for O'Donovan's position as one of the few eminent Irish dramatists to emerge after Sean O'Casey and before Brian Friel.
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Page 8 - I, that am curtail'd of this fair proportion, Cheated of feature by dissembling nature, Deform'd, unfinish'd, sent before my time Into this breathing world, scarce half made up, And that so lamely and unfashionable That dogs bark at me as I halt by them...
Page 8 - I, that am rudely stamped, and want love's majesty To strut before a wanton ambling nymph; I, that am curtailed of this fair proportion, Cheated of feature by dissembling Nature, Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time Into this breathing world, scarce half made up, And that so lamely and unfashionable That dogs bark at me as I halt by them...