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Three Dublin Plays: "Shadow of a Gunman", "Juno and the Paycock" and "Plough and the Stars" [Paperback]

Sean O'Casey
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

20 July 1998
The classic plays of the quintessential Dublin playwright

Three early plays by Sean O'Casey--arguably his three greatest--demonstrate vividly O'Casey's ability to convey the reality of life and the depth of human emotion, specifically in Dublin before and during the Irish civil war of 1922-23, but, truly, throughout the known universe. In mirroring the lives of the Dublin poor, from the tenement dwellers in The Shadow of a Gunman and Juno and the Paycock to the bricklayer, street vendor, and charwoman in The Plough and the Stars, Sean O'Casey conveys with urgency and eloquence the tiny details that create a total character as well as the terrors, large and small, that the constant threat of political violence inevitably brings. As Seamus Heaney has written, "O'Casey's characters are both down to earth and larger than life . . . His democratic genius was at one with his tragic understanding, and his recoil from tyranny and his compassion for the oppressed were an essential--as opposed to a moral and thematic--part of his art."

A new production of Juno and the Paycock will transfer from the Donmar Theatre in London to New York in September 2000.

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Frequently Bought Together

Three Dublin Plays: "Shadow of a Gunman", "Juno and the Paycock" and "Plough and the Stars" + The Playboy of the Western World and Other Plays: Riders to the Sea; The Shadow of the Glen; The Tinker's Wedding; The Well of the Saints; The Playboy ... of the Sorrows (Oxford World's Classics) + Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Wordsworth Classics)
Price For All Three: 15.17

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; 1st Faber & Faber Edition edition (20 July 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571195520
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571195527
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 12.5 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 73,834 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"From the perspective of the 1990s O'Casey stands out as Ireland's greatest playwright of the century. He it was who most passionately, most powerfully and most memorably dramatized the traumatic birth of the nation. He it was who gave to the twentieth-century theatre a greater range of vivid and original characters, male and female, than any other Irish playwright."--Christopher Murray, from "Twentieth-Century Irish Drama""What's astonishing about these dramas, apart from the sheer richness and generosity of their humanity, is their ability, in Shakespeare's great phrase, 'to move wild laughter in the throat of death'."--"Daily Telegraph", London

About the Author

Sean O'Casey was born on March 30, 1880 in Dublin, Ireland. Other than the Dublin Trilogy, his many works include The Star Turned Red, The Silver Tassie, and Purple Dust. He died on September 18, 1964.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars irish plays 12 Jan 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
as expected this is a good compilation of these classic plays
it is useful to see them together rather than each separately as it enables one to see the range and variety of work
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3.0 out of 5 stars Mild disappointment 22 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I love Irish writing, both novels and drama, especially Shaw, Wilde etc., and I am interested in the era of the Irish War of Independence - the Black & Tan war - and so on, so I thought it was time I read O'Casey's classic plays. I have to admit to being mildly disappointed. I was expecting more moving dialogue and a little more action. I didn't feel the squalour of 1920s Dublin from my reading of the plays. Perhaps these are plays which are not meant to be read but which depend on the skilful representation of the characters by actors, on the sets and costume etc. The only other play I have read which features Black & Tans was an advance copy I received of DJ Kelly's 3 act play 'Death of a Tan' and I found that much more moving with much sharper dialogue. Perhaps that was because it was based on a true story, however. If you enjoyed 'Shadow of a Gunman' though, keep a look out for 'Death of a Tan'.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Best for Students 17 Jan 2006
As an introduction to one of the most famous Irish playwrights, this book is satisfactory. Christopher Murray does a sterling job in giving the biographical detail needed. O'Casey has often been criticised for the poor way in which the plays are written and constructed, particularly 'The Shadow of a Gunman.' However, it was never intended as a literary masterpiece, but rather for the message it send out. It perhaps goes without saying that a passable knowledge of Irish history, and especially the Easter Rising of 1916, is a must when studying O'Casey's work.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Irish Plays 3 Mar 2009
Great and incisive and worth a read . If you are going to see these plays.
Then buy this book and refresh yourself with the penmanship of O'Casey
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highlights of Irish Theatre 6 Feb 2004
By Sailoil - Published on Amazon.com
Sean O'Casey was something of an anomaly on the Irish literary scene in the early 20th Century. While his fellow artistes (extra e being intentional) were lofty in their ideals and flowery in their language, writing often in rhyme or blank verse, O'Casey was very much the man of the people. Yeates, Synge and Beckett were concerned with ideals, classical parallells, celtic revival and universality while O'Casey painted the life of the working classes.
In that regard O'Casey holds a lot in common with Russian writers of the period, and with marxist treatments. But in the Holy Catholic Ireland of his day he was viewed with suspicion by the authorities and with contempt by the artistic aristocracy.
So it is somewhat fitting that the three plays in this book have more to say about the period than most of the "great" contemporary Irish works of the day. Certainly they have become far more popular and remain accessible to many people both thorough professional and amateur productions.
For me, O'Casey is at his best when he is in the tenament room with the ordinary people, and this is what makes Juno and the Paycock the most enjoyable of these plays. Layabout workshy men supported on the backs of strong hard women are as universal a theme you can get, but it is a theme made funny and poignant by O'Casey.
The Plough and the Stars is a milestone portrayal of the events of the Easter Rising on the ordinary people of Dublin, for whom the events were a frightening irrelevance that pulled them out of their daily struggle with hunger into a greater struggle for freedom and nationality. This turning point is captured with sheer brilliance by O'Casey, but it is left up to the theater producer to maximise it, and I have seen good and really horrendous productions of this work.
All three are excellent plays. Important works, not only in an Irish context, but giving voices to the disadvantaged in any society.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars CHOCKY AR LA (OUR TIME WILL COME) 23 July 2007
By Alfred Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
The history of Ireland is replete with `times of troubles', no question about that. The particular ` time of troubles' that the master Anglo- Irish socialist playwright Sean O'Casey takes on in these three classic and best known of his plays is the time from the Easter Uprising in 1916 to the time of the lesser known Civil War battles between Free Staters and die-hard Republicans in 1921-22. Needless to say they were all classified as tragedies by O'Casey.

What qualified O'Casey to do much more than provide yeoman's cultural service to this period? Well, for one he helped organize the famous James Connolly-led Irish Citizen's Army that took part in the heroic Easter Uprising in 1916. For another, O'Casey was a true son of the Dublin tenements where the action of the three plays takes place. He KNEW the `shawlie' environment and the language of despair, duplicity and treachery that is the lot of the desperately poor. Finally, as an Anglo- Irishman he had that very fine ear for the English language that we have come to cherish from the long line of Irish poets and playwrights who have graced our culture. That said, please read about this period in Irish history but also please read these plays if you want to put that history in proper perspective- in short, to understand why the hell the British had to then go from Ireland. Below are capsule summaries of the three plays.

Juno and the Paycock- the Boyles, the central characters in this play, have benefited from the creation of the Free State but at a cost, namely the incapacity of their son. Their daughter has seemingly better prospects, but that will remain to be seen. The device that holds this play together is the hope of good fortune that allegedly is coming under the terms of a relative of Captain Boyle's will. The ebb and flow of events around that fortune drives the drama as does the fickleness of the tenement crowd who gather to `benefit' from it. There is also a very lively and, from this distance, seemingly stereotyped camaraderie between the Captain and his `boyo' Joxer.

The Shadow of a Gunman- the gun has always played, and continues to play, an important part in the Irish liberation struggle. That premise was no different in 1920 than it is today. Whether the gun alone, in the absence of a socialist political program, can create the Workers Republic that O'Casey strove for is a separate question. What is interesting here is what happens, literally, when by mistake and misdirection, a couple of free-floating Irish males of indeterminate character and politics are assumed to be gunmen but are not. It is not giving anything in the play away to state that the real heroine of this action is a woman, Minnie, who in her own patriotic republican way takes the situation as good coin. The Minnies of this world may not lead the revolution but you sure as hell cannot have one without them (and their preparedness to sacrifice).

The Plough and the Stars- There was a time when to even say the words plough and stars brought a little tear to this reviewer's eye. Well he is a big boy now but the question posed here between duty to the liberation struggle in 1916 and its consequences on the one hand and, for lack of a better word, romance and family life on the other is still one to be reckoned with. That it had such tragic consequences for the young tenement couple Jack and Nora only underlines the problem of love and war in real life, as on the stage.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Irish Realist 22 May 2008
By R. J. Marsella - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What sets O'casey apart from his contemporaries is his abilty to utilize common people and their experiences to capture the tenor of the times. Without making his plays overtly about politics he is the most political of playwrights from his era. A remarkable gift for allowing his audience to see larger truths through the lives of ordinary Dubliners just looking to get by.
These 3 selections are all great representations of an immense talent.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sean O'Casey a great Irishman even though he was not Catholic 7 July 2008
By Timothy ODeens - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I chose to read this book because of a critical essay I am currently writing on Sean O'Casey. The plays in this book are in my opinon some of his greatest. Anyone who is wanting to learn about Ireland during this time should really read these. Even though he was a Protestant, he lived the life as well as wrote about the life of a Catholic patriot.

Erin Go Brach
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 27 Aug 2013
By YANK - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the second reading and just as enjoyable as the first which was many years ago. Highly recommended for early college students.
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