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Three Dublin Plays: The Shadow of a Gunman / Juno and the Paycock / The Plough and the Stars

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  1,227 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
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
Paperback, 272 pages
Published July 20th 1998 by Faber Faber (first published October 15th 1969)
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Barry Pierce
Feb 03, 2011 Barry Pierce rated it liked it
I'd read The Shadow of a Gunman and Juno and the Paycock years ago but I hadn't read The Plough and the Stars until now. All three plays are quite good. I love how O'Casey writes completely in vernacular, it gives the plays a downright sense of nationalistic importance. Overall it's a good collection.
Roger Cottrell
Oct 26, 2008 Roger Cottrell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Marxist, a classicist and 20th Century Ireland's greatest playwright. Because of his scrupulous criticism of Republicanism, his revolutionary socialism and exile in Britain he's almost a non person for Irish literary critics and wasn't mentioned once when I was at film school in Dublin. And I ask myself, what's so great about Samuel Becket in any case, when he wouldn't know one end of Aristotle's Poetics from a shovel. O'Casey's representation of working class life in Dublin is brilliant, too. ...more
Jul 20, 2010 Bruce rated it it was amazing
Born in Dublin, Sean O’Casey published “The Shadow of a Gunman” in 1923. Set in Dublin in 1920, it was first performed at the Abbey Theater. The play takes place during the War of Independence. Donal Davoren, a poet who is erroneously thought by his neighbors to be a member of the IRA, is living temporarily in a tenement, allowing the misapprehension to stand uncorrected since it is earning him the infatuation of Minnie Powell. The dialogue among the tenement residents is amusing, filled with ma ...more
Feb 25, 2013 Holly rated it liked it
Irish tragi-comedy, a characteristic particular to the Irish character. Sean O'Casey belonged to the working class and here in these plays captures three Dublin families during the Irish Civil War. It's a fascinating look, and because it's in play form seems almost like listening in at a space in a time long gone. The characters are interesting and we simultaneously feel sorry and annoyed. It's especially tragic the Irish would have turned in on themselves after such a long run of horrors inflic ...more
Ayne Ray
Nov 14, 2007 Ayne Ray rated it it was amazing
A renowned Irish playwright committed to socialist ideals, O'Casey was known for his realistic portrayal of Irish tenement life, fully realized female characters, and passion for the cause of Irish independence. Two of the greatest plays of the Irish canon are part of the Dublin plays: "Juno and the Paycock" (about a family in the tenement slums) and "The Plough and the Stars" (set during the time of the famous Easter Uprising of 1916).
Mar 16, 2017 Marc rated it it was ok
Shelves: drama, 2017
The Shadow of a Gunman - 2 stars - got better towards the end.

Juno and the Paycock - 2 stars -

The Plough and the Stars -1 star - the most boring of the 3

I found his plays difficult to read because they are written with lots of Irish dialects and i.e. adds "h" to so many words like "afther", "aht" for out, and "wan" for one which makes it hard to read when it's throughout the dialogue. I don't mind some dialect but this has way too much.
Sep 11, 2013 Abby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First, what I loved most about these plays are the language and how the phonetic words of the Irish from different classes are written on the page. I immediately heard them in my head and was put in the play's time and place. Each play is called a "Tragedy" and the collection is called O'Casey's Dublin Trilogy.

"Juno and the Paycock" takes place in 1922 and was the most vivid in my mind while reading it. 'Paycock' is the Irish way of saying 'peacock'. Paycock refers to Juno's ne'er do well husba
Apr 26, 2016 Ed rated it really liked it
"The Plough and the Stars" depicts tenement life in the slums of Dublin on Easter Monday, 1916, the most meaningful date in Irish history. Ironically (perhaps) the Rising takes place offstage with the sound of gunfire and harrowing, erratic reports from the General Post Office battleground the only indication that the most important event in Irish history was taking place close by. The characters in the play have to deal with the ravages of drink, disease and filth so while they are aware of the ...more
Czarny Pies
Sep 30, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Des francais qui possedent une voiture et qui vivent pres d'un port sur la Manche.
Shelves: english-lit
A force d'avoir lu beacoup de livres anglo-Canadiens et Quebecois, je sais tres bien ce qui est une litterature regionale. Les littératures anglo-canadienne et quebecoise sont des littératures regionales des États-Unis. La litterature Irlandaise est une litterature specifique a une ile dans l'archipel Britannique. Comme les deux littératures de mon pays, la litterature irlandaise est de tres grande qualité mais qui s'occupe souvent des questions profondement insulaire.

Cependant ces pieces qui so
Apr 03, 2016 Henry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
I wanted to read something within the Irish nationalist canon during the Easter centennial period.

Three plays, all contemporary plays based within the years of the fight for Irish independence, all set in Dublin working class locales. All within the grand tradition of the tragi-comedy.

I found them to be a little underwhelming. It seems the comedy would come from the utter uselessness, cowardice and drunkenness of 90% of the male characters. The tragedy that the superior womanfolk have to put up
May 31, 2013 Benjamin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irish
They are all tragedies, so you know that all that wrong people are going to die by the end, but these are great. Lots of laughs, tears, song, and alcohol. Working class characters, but there's no whitewashing them, they are as ugly as they want to be ... I guess this stuff is social realism like Gorky or something but it doesn't seem too heavy handed ... until of course all the wrong people die. But actually, if they had lived, you'd think it was corny, so in the end, these are perfect and proba ...more
Apr 14, 2008 Mag rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
read: juno and the paycock. (also saw the hitchcock film--which is great, although kinda hard to understand because it's one of his first talking pictures. seriously.)

juno's good. it's funny and interesting and, like all good plays, the last scenes knock you out. plus, there's tons of info about irish history so i really dig that on a personal level.
Jan 28, 2014 Gregorio rated it really liked it
Terribly sad, these are the plays to read if you want to read plays about the effects of terrorism and revolutions. Great works, all three, though Juno and the Paycock may be the best because the juxtaposition that lays in the transition from a near comedy to extreme tragedy makes it the hardest and the saddest of the three, and it also has the most memorable characters.
Jan 18, 2015 Leisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I actually only read The Plough and the Stars (for a class) from this edition.

I think I would have liked it so much more if there had been a great audio version of it to read along with. I got lost in the dialect several times.
Alyson Bowers
Good plays- especially Juno and the Paycock. Alfred Hitchock actually made a movie out of the Juno play...but it really gives a new spin on the Easter Uprising of 1916(?) or around then. O'Casey is a great playwright
Aug 17, 2011 Kathryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Increasingly depressing look at the destructive effects of war especially on those who believe most in what is being fought for. The dialect gets a little tricky, but it helped to read it out loud, which I guess makes sense since they are plays.
Sep 25, 2009 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Each Play is rather good, Juno and the paycock swayed it to 5 stars,

'An' as it blowed an' blowed, I ofen looked at the stars an' assed meself the question: What are the stars? What are the stars?
Apr 09, 2009 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2009, plays
Slightly different from what I usually read, I found them to be interesting and informative. I liked the perspective on Ireland and people that they gave me.
Mar 30, 2013 Ksenia added it
Shelves: grad-school
Read: Juno and the Paycock.
Jessica Walters
I have only read “Juno and the Paycock,” but loved the use of language.
John Weller
Jan 04, 2010 John Weller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shame about the hat
Gary Mesick
Oct 23, 2009 Gary Mesick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Darker, IRA-tinged writing, but still quite good and worth your time if you are looking for Irish drama beyond Beckett, Wilde and Shaw.
Feb 28, 2011 Naomi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jan 23, 2011 Aaron marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shwag from My Last Play
Jun 13, 2008 Lori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had to read these for a class. I had never heard of Sean O'Casey before, but he's amazing. I am now an expert on Ireland.
Jul 30, 2014 Kay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read "Juno and the Paycock" for a readers group. It is very much based in Irish politics and history but it was very powerful even on the page. On stage it must be very special.
Frank O'connor
Jan 04, 2009 Frank O'connor rated it it was amazing
O'Casey's three plays all deal with Ireland's troubled past. They each share a tinge of melodrama, tight plotting, great staging and a genius for Dublin dialogue and character.
Nicole Marino
Classic Irish drama - just truly fantastic works.
Jun 12, 2011 Cirque added it
For a class, enjoyable but don't remember much
Robert Hyman
I read these in my "theatre stage" in the 1970s
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  • The Complete Plays
  • Translations
  • Four Plays: Come Back, Little Sheba / Picnic / Bus Stop / The Dark at the Top of the Stairs
  • Six Plays: The Children's Hour / Days to Come / The Little Foxes / Watch on the Rhine / Another Part of the Forest / The Autumn Garden
  • The Complete Plays: The Hostage / The Quare Fellow / Richard's Cork Leg
  • Selected Poems and Four Plays
  • Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA
  • The Complete Plays
  • Three Plays: Desire Under the Elms / Strange Interlude / Mourning Becomes Electra
  • Modern Irish Drama
  • The Caretaker & The Dumb Waiter
  • Six Plays: The Father / Miss Julie / The Stronger / Easter / A Dream Play / The Ghost Sonata
  • The Beauty Queen of Leenane and Other Plays
  • All Will Be Well: A Memoir
  • The Cure at Troy: A Version of Sophocles' Philoctetes
Seán O'Casey was a major Irish dramatist and memoirist. A committed socialist, he was the first Irish playwright of note to write about the Dublin working classes.
More about Seán O'Casey...

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