"Buffoonery and Easy Sentiment": Popular Irish Plays in the Decade Prior to the Opening of the Abbey Theatre

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Carysfort Press, 2011 - Drama - 287 pages
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"Buffoonery & Easy Sentiment" - the phrase used by W.B. Yeats and Lady Gregory to dismiss the popular Irish theatre.

In this fascinating reappraisal of the non-literary drama of the late 19th - early 20th century, Christopher Fitz-Simon discloses a unique world of plays, players and producers in metropolitan theatres in Ireland and other countries where Ireland was viewed as a source of extraordinary topics at once contemporary and comfortably remote: revolution, eviction, famine, agrarian agitation, political assassination.

The form was the fashionable one of melodrama, yet Irish melodrama was of a particular kind replete with hidden messages, and the language was far more allusive, colourful and entertaining than that of its English equivalent.

There was much diversity, as shown in plays as different as Murray & Shine's An Irish Gentleman, Hubert O'Grady's The Priest Hunter, J.W. Whitbread's The Victoria Cross and Edward Selden's McKenna's Flirtation.

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About the author (2011)

Christopher Fitz-Simon is a former Artistic Director of the Lyric Theatre, Belfast, the Irish Theatre Company and the Abbey Theatre, Dublin.

Among his books are THE BOYS, a biography of the Dublin Gate Theatre's Hilton Edwards and Micheal MacLiammoir - `A really wonderful book' (Bruce Arnold, Irish Independent); `Beautifully written, diligently researched, sometimes sad, often hilarious' (Keith Baxter, Daily Telegraph); `By far the most wideranging and atmospheric description of Dublin's wartime theatre' (Clair Wills in That Neutral Island); and ELEVEN HOUSES, a memoir of the 1940s - `Christopher Fitz-Simon's wry and dispassionate approach keeps the narrative bracing' (Patricia Craig, Times Literary Supplement); `The sense of total recall is astonishing...it is painfully funny' (Roy Foster, Irish Times).

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