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March 28, 2018


Alice Trilogy by Tom Murphy

by NancyElin




  1. Tom Murphy  grew up in Tuam, County Galway, a tough frontier town.
  2. The youngest of 10 children, he saw his family “wiped out” by emigration.
  3. He was religious as a child, but had faith beaten out of him by the Christian Brothers.
  4. “The repressiveness of the Catholic upbringing was extreme,” he shivers


Tom Murphy thought is would be interesting to ‘paint ‘ 3 portraits of Alice.
Each portrait is independent of each other in terms of drama.
Act 1 does not dictate how events will happen in Act II or Act III

Timeline: 25 years.

is 25 yr – 40 yr – 50 yr.
— trapped by her own personality.
— more depressed with herself more
— than by her husband, family or anybody else.


In the Apiary:
1980 first scene: in the afternoon we meet. Is Alice losing her grip on reality? She he is 25 years old and communing with her alter ego in a dusty attic.

Stage directions:  Murphy compares Alice soft-shoed…darting around the attic. She finally stopping at a familiar place….like a rat! She takes 2 pills… like a rat  pushing them as a grain of corn into her mouth.


By the Gasworks Wall:
1995 second scene: Alice has summoned a lost love, Jimmy,  to meet her by the gasworks wall. Alice is now 40 years old and wants to meet up with a former lover. Like Alice, he is outwardly successful. Jimmy is serious about ‘connecting’…Alice admits she is just fantasizing and wants from here on in  just reality. Jimmy feels a fool…walks off. Alice is shaken and retires into the shadows.


At the Airport:
2005 third scene: At the airport… Alice is a 50-year-old woman sitting in an airport restaurant talking to herself while her rich husband silently eats. Alice is estranged from her grown-up children. Alice just rambles on and on about nothing.



  1. Playwrights want to ‘move’ the audience
  2. They want to create stories that generate an emotional response.
  3. I’m sorry to say….Tom Murphy failed and left me cold
  4. …and feeling nothing for dear Alice.
  5. Absolutely nothing….
  6. So when you get lemons….just make lemonade and
  7. …asked myself the question:


  1. Why do people stay in marriages that are going nowhere?
    After reading about two different women I thought I’d try to
    compare Alice in Alice Trilogy with Stella in Midwinter Break.
  2. Fear of being alone
    Alice fears being alone.
    Stella longs for solitude.
  3. Lacks courage to change their lives
    Alice cannot face up to change…the years will just drag on.
    Alice is not pro-active
    Alice knows what she needs to do to be fulfilled
    ….but she can’t do it.
  4. Stella wants to make something of the years she has left
    Stella is pro-active
    Stella knows what she needs to do to be fulfilled
    ….and she CAN do it.
  5. Fear of not being loved or accepted by anyone else
    Alice was in a loveless marriage but could not escape.
    Stella was in a marriage filled with love…but did not want to stay.
  6. Financial problems
    Alice is materialistic and very dependent on her indecently rich husband
    Stella is spiritualistic and is not concerned about financial matters.
    ‘All my life I’ve been putting cornflakes on the table […] the daily grind’.
    ‘I want to live a more devout life.”






Read more from Ireland, plays

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