The Playboy of the Western World
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The Playboy of the Western World

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  1,891 ratings  ·  67 reviews
He gave a drive with the scythe, and I gave a lep to the east. Then I turned around with my back to the north, and I hit a blow on the ridge of his skull, laid him stretched out, and he split to the knob of his gullet.
Paperback, 68 pages
Published June 1st 2004 by Kessinger Publishing (first published 1907)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,464)
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a narcissistic and a possessive father who is envious
of his son
growing independence.
Mahon's (the father ) conviction is that Christy (the son) is and ALWAYS be a fool, liar and a dribbling idiot who is beaten into submission

he couldn't believe then that his son could be that likely man or that champion playboy
Christy's reaction to this oppression is by killing his father and fleeing after
till the last scene the father feel the need to control
and ask his son to come with him Home
Jeff Jackson
This play caused riots back in the day and its celebration of the benefits of patricide might still raise plenty of eyebrows today. It took me a while to get accustomed to the mix of rural Irish dialect and poetic phrases, but there's a real richness to the language once you're properly immersed. Synge described his play as somewhere between 'comedy, tragedy, and extravaganza' which nicely sums up its constantly shifting emotional tones and dramatic registers, ultimately the work's strongest sui...more
I read this play in anticipation of seeing it performed at the Teatro Nacional D. Maria II in Lisbon. I do not speak more than a dozen or so words of Portuguese (Obrigada, cafe com leite, vegetariano, etc.), so I needed the head start. Unfortunately, I am not able to comment on the dramaturgical complexities of translating a play from early 20th century Irish dialect to modern Portuguese, but I can tell you that the actors did a fine job and my husband and I enjoyed the production immensely.

An exchange between Pegeen and Shawn at the beginning of the The Playboy of the Western World establishes that the village on the wild coast of Mayo is a dull and dreary place. Pegeen chides her suitor Shaneed by saying:
“It’s a wonder, Shaneen, the Holy Father’d be taking notice of the likes of you; for if I was him I wouldn’t bother with this place where you’ll meet none but Red Linahan, has a squint in his eye, and Patcheen is lame in his heel, or the mad Mulrannies were driven from California...more
Kanwal Mukhtar
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I've never been able to decide if Playboy of the Western World is outdated, prescient or timely. If it is timely then I think it would have to be timeless.

Christy Mahon comes to Flaherty's Pub and charms the punters and barmaid Pegeen Mike (the daughter of owner Mike Flaherty) with the story of how he killed his father. Christy can tell a tale, so he charms the pants off the regulars (figuratively) and Pegeen (damn near literally).

But Christy's Da shows up alive, having only been wounded by his...more
Mar 05, 2008 Emily rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those who enjoy studying Modernism, those who love the Irish
Shelves: theater, grad
This play got a 2-3 when I read it and a 3-4 after we discussed it in class. The dialogue is rich and in Synge's approximation of the Irish vernacular. He combined Anglo-Irish vocabulary with Gaelic syntax and it turned out beautifully. The play is a comedy on the surface but the moral and political undertones incited riots in theatre-goers in the early 1900s. In the spirit of realism and with a great love and reverence for his own Irish people, Synge told it like he saw it - stubborn, hyper-rel...more
Playful and wonderfully irreverent, I can honestly understand why it would have been despised by certain audiences when it was published. Its central focus of a young man who is praised by a community for allegedly killing his father with a shovel is certainly one that would have been looked upon with an arched eyebrow, as it is even today. But taking the seriousness of it away (which the play itself does quite quickly) and you are left with a wonderfully rich portrayal of Irish life (albeit fan...more
I always wondered if Irish folk musician Christopher Moore was given the nickname Christy by his mother Nancy due to the very namesake of this play.

There were actual riots that occurred out in the streets of Dublin following the opening performance of this play since the thing was based on a story of an apparent patricide. The Patricide then irritated, or at the very least tweaked, the longstanding dogma of the sensible Irish, causing them to riot.**

Had I been around in the day keeping my dogma...more
This play is in a class all of its own. The language is quite remarkable. I read somewhere that Synge directly transposed from the Irish Gaelic into English. This would explain the unorthdox use of the continuous present form where standard English would use the simple present, and the absence of the words "yes" and "no" which is characteristic of all Celtic languages, Goedelic and Brythonic, and which explains why to this day, even as usually thrid generation monolingual English speakers, Irish...more
David Campton
Let's get this clear from the outset... I have never really understood this play, nor the reaction to it... whether that be the violent riots it provoked when first staged by the Abbey in Dublin, or the widespread adulation it seems to garner from Irish theatrical cognoscenti... Some of the language in the play is wonderful, and there are some very amusing scenes, but it just doesn't hold together for me. If it has any theatrical value I think it is as an historical artefact, standing between th...more
What a cunning, and weird play... I have now read two Irish plays and liked them both, there is something in the simple settings and even simpler events that mesmerises me from start to finish.

I would say that there is something different in all Irish boys, they have it through their history! In a Swedish play like "Miss Julie" you would find a simple plot, but it simply cannot be compared to an Irish one.

Christy Mahon is the ideal Irish man, to me a hero, a handsome, courageous and under it al...more
Christopher Sanderson
I bought this on the back of a few words on a poster in a Dublin bookstore. I have only read it the once, and promised myself on finishing it that I would go back and explain it to myself. I haven't done that yet, but I am reading Ghost Light by Joseph O'Connor which is giving a few insights. I have a feeling that Synge will be with me for some time, only my own inabilities to take it all in prevents me giving it 5 stars… that may change in the fullness of time.
Dorottya Bacsi
At first, I just couldn't cope with this play. The whole attitude of the townies was just too bizarre in an otherwise plausible world (hailing people for killing people... weird enough). But when I was ready to accept it, I felt the drama was coherent and on point. I loved how it showed the hypocrisy and deformed "order of values" of the people.
I've come to the conclusion that plays are best seen or read -- not listened. It is more difficult for me to keep the characters straight in a performance on CD format vs. a book on CD.

That said, I did enjoy this "book". The script is funny, and I'm motivated to track down a video recorded performance to view.
Jul 21, 2014 Grace rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: plays
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brigita Zemen
drama, ktery predbehlo svoji dobu o dobrych 40 let s typickym humorem a "oslavou" irske natury.. pravem kult a odrazovy mustek pro veskerou soucasnou irskou dramatiku.. skoda ze takhle nevypadalo narodni obrozeni i u nas..
It's hard to believe that this lovely little play sparked major rioting and uproar upon its first performance in Dublin's Abbey Theatre in 1907 and again in New York in 1911, and all because of the apparent disdain it shows toward patricide and the "womanhood" of Ireland (this latter supposedly having been slighted by the mere passing mention of women's undergarments). Synge's language is enchanting, his characters vivid, and his sense of the dramatic potent and effective. Synge described this p...more
This play is definitely an expert blend of satire, as well as commenting on the Irish experience. Having read this for an Irish literature class I found I enjoyed this more in the context of the times. You realize how much of a satire this is because of how Synge portrays the Irish peasants. He doesn't present them as heroes but bumbling idiots who find the first stranger they meant as fascinating despite the fact he's a supposedly a murderer. The film plays like a dark comedy or a screwball com...more
Apr 01, 2012 Sarah rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: drama
A play that caused riots back in the day, Synge's Playboy of the Western World is a classic Irish comedy -- black with flecks of light to fool you into thinking things might turn out all right. I don't know if the play itself stands the test of time (its celebration of a murderer doesn't seem all that shocking today, nor does its rebuke of him; and how the play settles its thematic score makes the whole enterprise seem flimsy, by today's standards). But I will say the play is a classic for a rea...more
Sep 08, 2014 Susan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: plays
W. B. Yeats famously advised John Synge to leave Paris and return to Ireland, to go to the remote Aran Islands and "Live there as if you were one of the people themselves; express a life that has never found expression." So I expected this play, drawn from those experiences, to be poetic, earthy and perhaps remote from modern life. While the dialog is rich and poetic while using language drawn from everyday speech, the events of the play are as relevant to life today as anything seen on news cov...more
Synge excels at showcasing and exploiting Irish stereotypes in this play. However, Synge does this in a way that is both comedic and enlightening. Christy, the main character, tells a story about killing his own father. The townspeople become intrigued and fascinated by this story and come to regard him as a local hero and playboy. However, things turn darker as the truth is revealed about Christy's story and the townspeople learn that there is difference between the story of something and the a...more
Aug 14, 2014 Eleni rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: plays
Comedy graduate course
Synge's The Playboy of the Western World must be an Irish classic. Set in County Mayo during the early 1900s, Synge tells the story of Christy Mahon, traveler escaping psuedo-mysetrious past and claiming he killed his father. I think that in the context of the Irish culture exploration, this is a fundamental element. His hosts become instant admirers for his romanticism, or at least their idea of his romanticism and I think it is here that Synge delivers his message, the longing, lost nature of...more
Tells the story of Christy Mahon, an Irish peasant boy who earns much admiration when he confesses to the murder of his tyrannical father but loses his hero status when the man turns up alive. The plays explores the locals being more interested in vicariously enjoying his story than in condemning his morality.

This play offers a moving analysis of the ways language and community can shape the destinies of individuals for good or ill. I found the play to be very funny and would like to see it perf...more
I know it is an unpopular view, but I hated this play. Although J.M. Synge is Irish this very much reads as an Oirish play and is insulting to the Irish peasant community painting them as stupid and immoral. If I had have been around as the time when is was first stage I definitely would've been among the people who were rioting.
I tried to have an open mind and give it a chance, but this is an awful, insulting and poorly written play - if it was written today it would be bordering on racism.
I really enjoyed this play, from the language to the plot. To be fair, I had a bit of trouble with the premise of the story until it came to the last few pages where it all wraps up nicely relieving my previous anxiety!

A line from the play that sums it all up for me is spoken by Christy, the protagonist: "there's a gap between a gallous story and a dirty deed".

If they show this in my local theatre (down the road from where Synge was born) I will definitely stop by for a viewing.
Amanda - Go Book Yourself
It seems to be a love or hate deal with this play. Im still undecided. I had to study it for the leaving cert which should make me hate it immediatly. I dont hate but I still cant say I really liked it either.

The plot is ridiculous and seems to just be a play to portray the Irish as druken louts ( were not!!) and I know this place was met with anger on its opening night.

Its a play Ill probably have to read a few times before I see anything poetic in it.
What is there not to love about this play? Funny, dangerously satirical, romantic and oddly poignant, this is almost an Irish COLD COMFORT FARM it's so deft in its characterizations and sly winks at the audience. As much fun to read as it would be to watch, it's the kind of play you wish was performed more often with the caliber of talent that would really bring it to life. A must for lovers of drama and/or the Emerald Isle.
Richard Downey
This is one of the seminal works in the Irish literary renaissance. It is hard to imagine how this little gem could have caused riots at the Abbey Theater in Dublin when it was first performed. But it did and has been a high water mark in Irish Literature ever since. It should really be read in conjunction with the 1 act, Riders to the Sea, also by Synge. In fact the two plays are almost always published together.
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Edmund John Millington Synge (pronounced /sɪŋ/) was an Irish playwright, poet, prose writer, and collector of folklore. He was one of the cofounders of the Abbey Theatre. He is best known for the play The Playboy of the Western World, which caused riots during its opening run at the Abbey theatre. Synge wrote many well known plays, including "Riders to the Sea", which is often considered to be his...more
More about J.M. Synge...
The Playboy of the Western World & Riders to the Sea Riders to the Sea The Aran Islands The Complete Plays The Playboy of the Western World and Two Other Irish Plays

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