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March 25, 2022


#ReadingIrelandMonth22 Marina Carr

by NancyElin



Portia Coughlan by Marina Carr by Marina Carr (no photo)

Finish date:   21 March 2022
Genre: Play
Rating: A++++++++++
Review: Portia Coughlan (ISBN: 978-0571190232)


Good news: Structure: I was NOT expecting this! Act 1 beginning – Act 2 the end – Act 3 the middle! Irish Greek Tragedy.

Good news: Theme: (act 3,3) Portia wonders…”Is our lives followin’ a minute and careful plan…or are we flittin’ from chance to chance? (determinism vs fatalism).

Good news: Puzzles: Ms. Carr fills her play with metaphors, images, objects dripping with symbolism and foreshadowing! (ghost of her twin, white horse statue). I love reading a good play…it is more challenging than a novel!  Act 1,2: “…a day to hop the ram in on the ewes”. You might just read over this but it mirrors Shakespeare! Othello: Act 1,1 “Even now, now, very now, an old black ram is topping your white ewe.”

Good news: Buzz word in the play: MOOD…..and try to connect the dots! Act 1: queer mood — one of your b**chy moods again — Act 3: when your mood changes – her mood has changed again — what sort of a mood? — I’ve lived through every mood…..

Good news: Tension: Act 2,2 ….after the funeral just an explosive family verbal brawl! Portia’s aunt and old prostitute confronts Portia’s bitter grandmother Blaize: “…You know and I know when the ROT began and HOW the ROT began.” As audience/reader ….we must know the truth! NOTE: conversation carried out seriously is it’s own undeniable  action!

Good news: Symbol: Just by reading the list of characters I get an idea what may happen. Symbol: Ghost: The appearance of a ghost (Gabriel) has often been regarded as an omen or portent of death Seeing one’s own ghostly double (Portia is Gabriel’s twin) is a related omen of death.

Good news: New Rule: Reading a play is more work than reading a novel. The night before I read a play I make a list of the characters (names, ages etc). Then I list the acts and scenes and place the names of the characters in the specific scene. Then I go to sleep…and try to find connections between the characters, their names in this play. For example two  characters were named after angels! This helps me imagine what could happen.

Personal: The measure of success in theater is always ‘Does the conversation continue after the play is over? Does the play linger in your mind? Well this play will linger for sure. Ms Marina Carr is a formidable talent and she’s proved it by winning the prestigious Windham-Campbell Prize 2017 (165.000 dollar!). Just reading this play was impressive…I cannot imagine the intensity one would feel seeing it on stage. I really miss going to see GREAT performances in a theatre.…so I’ll just have to read plays on paper.

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3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Mar 25 2022

    Excellent review, I wish you could have seen it too, though it sounds like you have a pretty good imagination for it. I like your preparation ritual before reading. Bravo!

    • Mar 25 2022

      …if you fail to plan…
      you plan to fail!

      • Mar 25 2022

        …if you fail…
        take an ale…
        If you ail…
        Take a pill…
        Never fails.

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