Matt's Reviews > The Playboy of the Western World and Other Plays

The Playboy of the Western World and Other Plays by J.M. Synge
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's review
May 10, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: eire, theatrepieces, social-crit, satire

Only two plays in thus far (reading it for a class I'm auditing, before I go to the holy land, I hopeahopeahope) and they're both fantastic.

I have this thing with reading plays, probably everybody does, wherein the reading of the play creates this kind of Platonic ideal of what its perfect performance would be like- inflections, gesticulations, actors, stage settings, etc. And so, in a way, I don't really even want to see them performed onstage or on film. And yet, of course, I do so very much...

Playboy of the Western World was exactly as good as I'd always imagined it would be. Vivacious, alternately comic, absurd, deeply felt, and somewhat despairing. Antic and febrile but shot through with wonderful poetic sympathy and cultural flavor. Synge caused a scandal, and why not? He satirized a certain angle of the Irish world at the time, though his goal was for the audience to laugh at the scenes onstage with all their buffoonery and caricature and instead the audience took a teeth-gritting whoozisazzholetrynafool attitude, tearing it up at the Abbey Theatre the first week (!) it was performed. The actors, including the brilliant brothers Fay, had to get to the end in dumbshow.


Docked a star because some of the longer plays began to get wearying, but Synge has got a fan in me.

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Reading Progress

May 10, 2012 – Shelved
June 5, 2012 – Started Reading
July 22, 2012 –
page 150
December 9, 2012 – Finished Reading

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