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4.0 out of 5 stars A Gem for the Synge Enthusiast, 7 April 2013
By 
Louise Ward (Dublin, Ireland) - See all my reviews
Anthony Roche is Associate Professor in the School of English, Drama and Film at University College Dublin and was Director of the Synge Summer School. This collection of ten essays comprises of seven previously published and three published for the first time.
In his introduction Roche tells us about and stresses the importance of the Galway based Druid Theatre company in relation to Synge, as "a deliberate and self-conscious artist rather than naif". The book sets out to analyse Synge's plays and also to consider the effect on the many Irish playwrights who followed him: Beckett, Friel and others.
The essays cover ten areas: Christianity versus Paganism; Synge and Germany: Drama as Translation; Yeats, Synge and an Emerging Irish Drama; Joyce, Synge and the Irish Theatre Movement; Ghosts in Irish Drama; Women on the Threshold; Marginal Zones and Liminality; Postmodern Playboy; J.M.Synge and Molly Allgood and Brian Friel and Synge. These essays concentrate on four of Synge's six canonical plays; Riders to the Sea, The Shadow of the Glen, The Well of the Saints and The Playboy of the Western World and as Roche identifies, "they yield further insights whenever a new approach or topic is considered" and comments that there is more to explore and discuss.
This is a book that will be of intense interest to the literary student and the Synge enthusiast. It addresses much on, as the author would describe as 'matters Syngean' and brings the commentary right up to the current day with references to the modern interpretations of Synge's work and Joseph O'Connor's use of Synge and Molly Allgood in his 2011 novel Ghost Light.
Roche's knowledge of Synge is, as they say these days, "awesome", and as an accompaniment to a readers or researchers exploration of this unique and immensely talented playwright they will not be disappointed.
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