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Posts from the ‘plays’ Category


#Ireland Phillip McMahon (playwright)


  • Author: Phillip McMahon (1979)
  • Title: Come On Home
  • Opening night: July 2018
  • Location: The Peacock Theatre is situated under the Abbey foyer.
  • It is affiliated with Ireland’s National Theatre and
  • The Abbey Theatre.Abbey Theatre Dublin
  • Director: Rachel O’Riordan (1974)
  • Trivia: Nominated Best New Play Irish Times Theatre Awards
  • Winner: Announcement 31 March 2019
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly plan
  • #ReadingIrelandMonth19



  1. The play is about a family forced
  2. …into a reunion under difficult circumstances.
  3. A family funeral is the best time to clear the air
  4. …and at the same time muddy the waters!
  5. The play deals with bigotry in a small town in Ireland.
  6. Characters talk about love, loss, abuse and drink.
  7. They must say difficult things.
  8. History and blood binds them
  9. but they don’t know each other.
  10. Michael hasn’t been home in almost twenty years.
  11. He was kicked out of the seminary and
  12. exiled from his family home.
  13. But now, the death of his mother sees him
  14. ….reunited with his two brothers
  15. …their partners and the local clergy.
  16. Questions must be answered.
  17. Scores met be settled.


Cast: 5 male actors – 2 female actors

  1. Brothers: Ray – Michael – Brian
  2. Clergy: Fr. Cleary – Fr. Seamus
  3. Partners: Aoife (Ray’s partner) – Martina (Brian’s wife)
  4. Setting: family living room, single setting = pressure-cooker play
  5. Secrets surface only under pressure.
  6. Strong emotions (despair, fear, anger) created by events
  7. Why does the character have difficulty telling these secrets?
  8. Is it fear? shame? pride?
  9. …that makes the words stick in the character’s throat?
  10. Theme: classic Irish drama –>  exile …then returning home


  1. Phillip McMahon has created  2 act play with 8 scenes
  2. …that does NOT focus on a complex narrative plot line.
  3. He is interested in showing only the moments of intense conflict
  4. …that shape his characters.
  5. Ireland is changing and
  6. themes as a gay priest…are now on stage.
  7. This makes the play feel fresh, surprising, and compelling.
  8. The real excitement is the pivotal moment
  9. …the moment when all control is in the balance.
  10. We hold our breath!
  11. What is that moment in this play?
  12. I’ll let you discover that
  13. Will it win the Irish Times Theatre Award?
  14. Award will be announced on 31st of March!
  15. #PowerfulPlay

#Classic: Hamlet



  1. Lovers:  Ophelia and Hamlet
  2. Focus: revenge – the obsession to avenge can drive one mad
  3. Family issue: Uncle kills Hamlet’s father and marries his mother (yikes!)
  4. Plot twist: ghost of King Hamlet wants revenge. Triggers entire play!
  5. Hook: Ghost in Act 1…all acts end with cliffhangers!!
  6. Genre:  Revenge play
  7. Pivotal acts:  Act 3 and Act 5
  8. Soliloquies:  7 spoken by Hamlet
  9. Tragic flaw Hamlet: overthinks everything! “To be or not to be…” (Act 3, 1)
  10. Villian: Claudius manipulative, ruthless
  11. Ophelia: weak character compared to Desdamona!
  12. Minor character who plays major role: Laertes
  13. Symbol: poison (weapon, manipulation and madness)
  14. Motif: spying (eavesdropping) to seek truth)
  15. Spies: Hamlet, Horatio, Reynaldo, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, Polonius, King Claudius
  16. Victims: Queen, King, Ophelia, Hamlet, Laertes
  17. Shakespeare’s statement: “What a piece of work is man!” (Act 2, 2)
  18. Setting:  Elsinore Castle, Danish coast, graveyard
  19. Major themesrevenge, madness. death. appearance vs reality
  20. Minor themesambition, corruption
  21. …”Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”  (Act 1, 4)
  22. Body count: 9
  23. King Hamlet (before play starts)
  24. Queen Gertrude
  25. King Claudius
  26. Polonius
  27. Rosencrantz
  28. Guildenstern
  29. Ophelia
  30. Laertes
  31. Hamlet
  32. The only main character left
  33. …standing at the end is Horatio,
  34. …who is usually seen sitting on the ground,
  35. …cradling Hamlet’s corpse.
  36. So technically, he’s not standing.
    1 drowning
    2 beheadings
    1 simple stabbing
    2 simple poisonings and
    3 aggravated stabbings (poisoned blade/some poison)
  37. Now that’s what I call a tragedy!


Trend:   Theme: illusion vs reality

  1. In Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello and Hamlet
  2. ….Shakespeare uses this theme to drive the plot.
  3. I will be looking at other plays by WS to see if he repeats this theme.
  4. Midsummer Night’s Dream: play-in-play (illusion)….is also used in Hamlet
  5. Othello: it appears Desdemona is having an affair ( lost handkerchief)…she is not.
  6. Hamlet: it appears Hamlet is in a legitimate duel…he is not, sword is poison tipped
  7. Hamlet: Claudius appears to be praying on his knees…he is not.
  8. Hamlet: Claudius must appear to be guiltless in death of Hamlet…he is not.
  9. Hamlet: Killing Hamlet must appear to be an accident….it is not, it is premeditated


Last thoughts:

  1. I have been avoiding this play for years
  2. …too difficult, complex plot.
  3. Finally I can strike this play off my Bucket List!
  4. I ordered the Kenneth Branagh’s film  Hamlet (1996)
  5. It is the only version that includes the complete text
  6. …nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
  7. …and is 4 hours long.
  8. #GetOutThePopcorn

#Play: Chimerica

  • Author: Lucy Kirkwood
  • Title: Chimerica
  • Published: 2013
  • List of Challenges
  • Monthly plan
  • List of Plays and theatre links
  • Trivia:
  • Winner, 2014 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize
    Winner, 2014 Olivier Award for Best New Play
    Winner, 2013 Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Play
    Winner, 2014 Critics’ Circle Best New Play Award



Finished: 11.02.2019
Genre: play
Rating: A


  1. If you are in a winter ‘reading slump’ read a play!
  2. This award winning work by Lucy Kirkwood is a good place to start.
  3. There was a tank man (see cover), the photo proves it and
  4. Kirkwood has taken a creative leap to tell us who he is…
  5. why he is standing there….and what is in those shopping bags?
  6. A writer’s duty is to the story rather than the facts as they happened.
  7. Kirkwood’s Chimerica  is based  loosely on the
  8. 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.
  9. She fictionalized it and retained control of the impressive narrative.
  10. It took Kirkwood 6 years to write this play
  11. …and you can read it is 2,5 hrs.

#Classic: Richard II

Ben Whishaw



  1. Love triangles:  None!
  2. Focus: the king is God’s appointee and above the law
  3. Family issue: Richard II steals cousin’s inheritance (Bolingbroke)
  4. Richard II: amateur politician, monarch treats England as a possession
  5. Henry Bolingbroke Duke of Herford: Machiavellian strategist
  6. Betrayal: Bolingbroke returns from banishment
  7. instigates a coup, imprisonment and murder


  1. Pivotal scene: Act 4,1 – Richard removes his  crown
  2. ” I give this heavy weight from off my head
  3. …And this unwieldy sceptre from my hand…”
  4. Minor characters with major role….move plot along:
  5. Duchess of Gloucester – devastated by loss her husband
  6. Duchess of York –  exemplifies love for a child
  7. Queen Isabel – exemplifies devotion to husband Richard II
  8. Setting: England, Wales,
  9. …Westminster Hall (Act 4: deposition of Richard II)
  10. …Castles Flint, Pomfret, Berkeley and Tower of London


  1. Major theme:  legal vs divine right to rule
  2. Minor theme: honor
  3. “My honor is my life; both grow in one
  4. Take honor from me; my life is done (Act 1)
  5. Symbol: hand mirror (Act 4,1) 
  6. Richard speaks to images of himself in a mirror.
  7. ….then shatters the glass (his identity)
  8. Body count: 16


  1. Shakespeare mixes fact and fiction:
  2. Richard II wife, Queen Isabel, is an adult when she was widowed in the play.
  3. Reality: Isabel was a child bride (7 yr) and was widowed at 10 yrs old.
  4. Genre: history play used by Elizabethan monarch to legitimize power
  5. Shakespeare’s statement: Act 3,2 
  6. “I had forgot myself; am I not king?
    Awake, thou coward majesty! thou sleepest.”


Last thoughts:

  1. Once you know basic story line….
  2. this is a  very readable play
  3. …and you learn about British history!
  4. #MustRead Classic


Watched DVD  The Hollow Crown episode Richard II

  1. Act 1, 2: left out  (short scene with John of Gaunt and Duchess of Gloucester)
  2. Act 3,1  beheading of traitors Bugsy and Greene (OMG)
  3. Act 3, 2 beautifully filmed…Richard II realizes….he’s doomed.
  4. Act 3,2  here where you find the title.
  5. “…for within the hollow crown that rounds the mortal temples of a king
  6. Keeps Death his court and there the antic sits…”
  7. Act 3,4 (short garden scene) the queen eavesdrops on the
  8. …gardener and hears her husband has abdicated.
  9. This scene is more powerful on film than in the play.
  10. Act 4, 1: so impressive!
  11. The film emphasizes the ‘Christ-like’ image of Richard II being
  12. brought to  Westminster Hall in flowing
  13. …white robes and riding on a donkey!
  14. An emotional Richard II finally hands the “hollow crown’
  15. ….over to his cousin Bolingbroke.  (future Henry IV)
  16. Reading the play first  then
  17. …seeing it on film is absolutely thrilling.
  18. Act,5 5: …what a death scene Richard II.
  19. This DVD is truly worth you time and money!


Basic story line:

  1. Richard II  is called upon to settle a dispute
  2. …between his cousin Henry Bolingbroke (future Henry IV)
  3. and Thomas Mowbray. (Act 1)
  4. Richard II calls for a duel but then halts it just before swords clash.
  5. Both duelers are  banished from the realm.  (Act 2)
  6. When Richard II banishes Bolingbroke and confiscates his property.
  7. …he begins a chain of events that bring about his own downfall.
  8. Richard II then  leaves for wars against the rebels in Ireland.(Act 3)
  9. Bolingbroke returns to claim back his inheritance. (Act 3)
  10. Bolingbroke forces Richard II to abdicate. (Act 4)
  11. Bolingbroke takes Richard prisoner and lays claim to the throne. (Act 5)
  12. Henry Bolingbroke Duke of Herford becomes King Henry IV.

#AWW2019 Patricia Cornelius playwright



  1. Patricia Cornelius is one of Australia’s best playwrights.
  2. Unfortunately her artistic “hands are tied”.
  3. There’s not much wiggle room if you adapt a novel
  4. for the stage.


  1. Jamal and Bibi have a dream.
  2. To lead Australia to soccer glory in the next World Cup.
  3. But first they must face landmines, pirates, storms and assassins.
  4. Can Jamal and his family survive
  5. …their incredible journey and get to Australia?


Main Characters:

  1. Jamal – (12) Afghan boy: protective of sister, Bibi. Jamal has a very big passion for soccer.
  2. Bibi – (9) Afghan girl: very courageous personality and also has a passion soccer.
  3. Omar –  Afghan boy: Jamal’s good friend, very poor and has no real family.
  4. Rashida – meets Jamal and Bibi (no parents), becomes like their mother.
  5. Andrew –  is an Australian that they meet during the campsite.


Structure:  30 scenes (no acts)



  1. Candlestick – heirloom, represents ‘guiding light”; sold to smugglers for escape
  2. Soccer ball  –  represents future happiness



  1. Adapted for the stage by Patricia Cornelius from
  2. Morris Gleitzman’s best-selling novel (2002)
  3. Boy Overboard reveals  a deeply
  4. …human side of the asylum seekers issue.
  5. Ms Cornelius is one of Australia’s best playwrights.
  6. Her play Don’t Go Gentle is extraordinary.
  7. My expectations were high….but this play is
  8. written for a young adult audience
  9. …and the dialogue reflects that.
  10. Patrica Cornelius  adapts a novel for the stage
  11. ….which limits what she can write.
  12. This is a play geared for junior high-school production.
  13. #PlayForNicheAudience

#CanBookChallenge Playwright Hannah Moscovitch

Finished: 28.12.2018
Genre: play  “Infinity”
Rating: A+++



  1. When you least expect it….suddenly a
  2. small play can brighten my reading day!
  3. Infinity:
  4. Characters I felt for…
  5. hopscotching places and times.
  6. Carefully dynamics.
  7. Prose that moves like a cheetah.
  8. Wise but not preachy….
  9. Reading time: 60 minutes!
  10. #Bravo  Hannah Moscovitch


Hannah Moscovitch

  1. Born June 5, 1978) is a Canadian playwright who rose to national
  2. ..prominence in the 2000s.
  3. She has been dubbed “an indie sensation” by Toronto Life Magazine
  4. CBC Radio calls her “the wunderkind of Canadian theatre”.



#Irish Playwright Brian Friel

  • Author: Brian Friel (1929-2015)
  • Title: Philadelphia, Here I Come!
  • Published: 1964
  • Genre: tragicomedy
  • Reading time: 1,5 hr
  • Trivia: this play made Friel famous in
  • …Dublin, London and New York
  • List of Challenges 2018
  • Monthly plan
  • List of Plays
  • #ReadIreland



  1. The play describes Gareth’s  last night in his home town of Ballybeg.
  2. He is an Irish lad about to set off for America.
  3. Friel recognizes an idea of home
  4. ….at the moment it is about to disappear.



  1. Gareth is played by 2 actors: Public and Private.
  2. Friel reveals in this way the difference between
  3. how we see ourselves (lonely, emotional life)
  4. and how we appear to others (gregarious, social).
  5. Other characters are:
  6. Gar’s surrogate mother Madge; housekeeper
  7. Gar’s speechless, affectionless father
  8. Gar’s ex-fiancée Kate



  1. This play grabs you by the hand not your throat.
  2. It is sentimental piece of writing with the
  3. right blend of regret….loveless youth, distant father.
  4. and laughter….on the threshold of escape to,
  5. “a vast restless place that
  6. …doesn’t give a damn about the past.”
  7. The reader must decide is this play about
  8. ….and exile or emigration?
  9. #WorthYourReadingTime


Last thoughts:

  1. This play is really meant to be seen and not only read!
  2. The interchanges between the two actors ‘Public and Private’
  3. bring a real dynamic that captures the audiences attention.
  4. The maternal touches/gestures of Madge
  5. …the surrogate mother show her loving character.
  6. She stuffs snacks and a few pound notes in Gar’s luggage,
  7. …invites 3 mates to come and say good-bye.
  8. She warns Gar to be strong…because he will get homesick.
  9. Her exit the end of the play will pluck a heart string!

#Classic Death of a Salesman



  1. Before we begin the book….we know how it will end!
  2. The story revolves around
  3. …Willy Loman, (…notice name “low man”).
  4. He is a 63 yr salesman, who cannot understand
  5. …how he failed and cannot live the American Dream.
  6. Central: the hardships that come with trying
  7. …to meet social expectations in America.
  8. Irony: We never learn in the play what Willy sells!


Characters:  major

  1. Willy Loman – insecure, self-deluded traveling salesman.
  2. He mirrors an everyday “character” of Post WWII American society
  3. inflexible to advice he just shuts people out and refuses to listen
  4. Tragic flaw: ridiculous idea of being “well-liked” as a way to succeed.


  1. Linda Loman – quintessential 50s housewife, devoted doormat
  2. blinded by loyality.
  3. Biff is telling her the truth but she is not listening.


  1. Hap Loman: son who represents Willy’s sense of importance,
  2. ambition, servitude to expectations.
  3. He lived in Biff’s shadow all of his life, ignored.


  1. Biff Loman: son who represents Willy’s vulnerable, poetic, tragic side.
  2. He has had twenty to thirty jobs,
  3. all of them fail to improve his station in life.
  4. But Biff is the only character in the play
  5. who changes from ignorance to knowledge.


Theme:   betrayal

  1. Generations of Loman men betray their family.
  2. They place their desires above their families well-being.
  3. Grandfather: suddenly leaves  when Willy was 4  yr.
  4. Father:  suddenly leaves to find success in Alaska.
  5. Willy: betrays family (wife) with s sordid affair.
  6. Sons: Biff and Hap,  abandon father
  7. in restaurant to trail after 2 women.


Theme: suicide as a means

  1. Willy is determined to eliminate himself in
  2. what has turned out to be an unfulfilling life.
  3. The payment of his insurance policy will help family survive.
  4. Suicide is a method for something else.
  5. Irony: Willy Loman is worth more dead
  6. ….than alive.



  1. Structure: 2 acts + Requiem  (118 pg)
  2. Reading time:  2,5 hours 
  3. The acts are divided into conversations
  4. about the past and present.
  5. Timeline: an evening and the following day.
  6. The he action is interrupted by
  7. flashbacks or memories of a
  8. period approximately 17 years earlier.
  9. late 1920s – early 1930s (The Depression)


Staging the past and present:

  1. Shakespeare never tried to show the past as the present.
  2. His characters describe a past event in dialogue.
  3. Miller uses the forestage to illustrate
  4. Willy’s imaginings the of past.
  5. Flashbacks track Willy’s mental decline.


  1. Miller was modern because of his staging (forestage)
  2. and he believed a tragic downfall can  happen
  3. to a common man, as Willy Loman.
  4. Aristotle stated a tragic hero is always
  5. a very important person.



  1. This is one performance I wish I had seen March 2012
  2. Death of a Salesman (link play review NYT, 2012)
  3. with Philip Seymour Hoffman.
  4. It is a novel in a nutshell…so powerful!
  5. I’ve watched the movie (1985) starring Dustin Hoffman.
  6. To my delight I found the complete audio recording
  7. of the Broadway play (2012)  click here
  8. and listen to Hoffman’s  stunning performance!
  9. The voices mesmerized me.
  10. You could hear Willy hallucinatory….delusional.
  11. Death of a Salesman  is considered the best play
  12. …written by an American playwright.


Feedback:  comment Cleo @ClassicalCarousel (new blog!)

This play was just a complex as a novel…and only 2,5 hrs reading time!
I did not even go into the symbols in the play (rubber hose, silk stockings and a flute)…but you can discover them your self. I did notice after reading the play that Arthur Miller used music as a symbol. If I had not listened to the 2012 version on You Tube…I’d never known! You miss this symbol if you are not aware that the play begins and ends with flute music…and at other times in the play. It is a reminder to Willy that he could have chosen a free and wild life in the country like his father did. Lost opportunity…poor Willy


Last thought:  my favorite quote:

  • “Willy was a salesman.
  • He’s a man way out there in the blue
  • …riding on a smile and a shoeshine,”




#Classic Electra

  • Author: Sophocles
  • Title: Electra
  • Written: 410 BC
  • Revenge  is a dish best served cold.
  • Plot:  read the backround and storyline on Wikipedia.
  • Reading time: 1 hour 15 min



  1. This was truly a exceptional play.
  2. One settting…a few characters a
  3. pressure-cooker domestic drama
  4. …that keeps us waiting for the climax!



  • Electra – princess of Argos
  • King Agamemnon – king of Argos
  • Clytemnestra – queen of Argos (father was the king of Sparta) sister of Helen of Troy
  • Iphigenia – princess of Argos (sacrificed to gods by her father)
  • Orestes – prince of Argos (twin brother Electra)
  • Aegisthus – cousin of King Agamemnon….lover of Clytemnestra
  • Chrysothemis – princess of Argos ( tries to calm Electra down!)
  • Unlike her sister….she does not seek vengeance against her mother.



  1. Pity: Lavinia is killed under false pretenses
  2. Fear: imagining what we would have done if we were in Electra’s shoes
  3. Flaw: Electra fails to balance passion (grief father’s murder) with reason.
  4. Recognition: Orestes pretends to be dead; he returns to Mycenae…is reunited with Electra.
  5. Pathos: Electra evokes our pathos when she
  6. ….says after hearing of the death of her brother
  7. ….there is no one to protect her. (appeals to our emotions…)
  8. “No. There was someone (brother). Here are his ashes.”
  9. Electra uses pathos: When she still believes her brother is dead,
  10. she makes an emotional speech over his urn,
  11. begging to be dead and put into the urn as well.
  12. Here, she is using pathos in an attempt
  13. …to convince a higher power to take her life



  1. Fast moving play filled with dramatic irony
  2. …WE know more than the characters.
  3. That will keep any Greek on the edge of their chair!
  4. Question:
  5. Did Sophocles ever watch TV show Sisters (1991-1996)
  6. Here are my thoughts about that!


  1. Major themes: is definitely betrayal, justice and revenge.
  2. Agamemnon betrays is wife Clytemnestra
  3. by to sacrificing his daughter (Lavinia) to the goddess Artemis.
  4. Clytemnestra betrays her husband
  5. ….by her affair with Aegisthus (King’s cousin) while he was at sea.


  1. Loyalty: Family loyalty surpasses loyalty to the state.
  2. For Electra vengeance remains necessary.


  1. Murders: wife kills husband (avenge her daughter’s death)
  2. With the aid of Electra, Orestes kills both his mother and her lover.
  3. Victims of crimes become criminals themselves.


  1. Strong point: Chrysothemis  This character gave the play a modern feeling!
  2. She is a superficial girl.
  3. ..accepts the status quo in the family (remarriage mother)
  4. ..but remains very protective and close to Electra.


  1. Strong point: Dialogue:  Chrysothemis speaking to Electra
  2. This sounds like an
  3. …episode of the TV show ‘Sisters’ (1991-1996)


  • Now is the time to start being sensible.
  • Don’ ruin your life in sheer stupidity.
  • You won’t listen to reason at all, will you?
  • Don’t throw your life away on plain stupidity.
  • When you are sane you can think for both of us.
  • Let’s just say there are times when justice is too big a risk.
  • Control yourself!


Last thoughts:

  1. Greek plays are fun to read and ‘read about’.
  2. I always have to prepare dinner before starting a Greek play.
  3. Once I start reading and researching it…I forget to eat!
  4. But the hardest part is trying to find something new to say
  5. …about a play that has been
  6. …with us since time immemorial.
  7. It is just a…
  8. #MustRead.






NonFicNov week 3 Be the Expert

Week 3: (Nov. 12 to 16) – Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert (Julie @ JulzReads)Three ways to join in this week! You can either share three or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).


  • I enjoy reading plays and learning about the ‘nuts and bolt’ of
  • writing and staging them.
  • Here a a few books about plays, playwrights and the theater.


Feedback for a comment @ Doing Dewey

  1. Plays reflect society in a very direct way.
  2. Death of a Salesman (post WW II consumerism and the American Dream)
  3. Raisin in the Sun (Black experience of trying
  4. to assimilate into white society, pros, cons)
  5. The Father (originally a French play, Le Pere)
  6. touching look how a son deals
  7. …with a father slipping into dementia.
  8. Fences  by August Wilson
  9. …Oscar winning movie 2016, Viola Davis Best Actress
  10. written 10 years after Arthur Miller’s play DoS set in 1950s is
  11. considered the black American version of Death of a Salesman.
  12. I could go on and on!
  13. If you just take one play…
  14. …do a little research
  15. …you never know where you’ll end up!
  16. Thanks for you comments and as always your
  17. Friday Non-fiction post that gives
  18. others an opportunity to share their NF reads!


Mapping Irish Theater

  • Mapping Irish Theater examines the
  • …relationship between a society and its theater.
  • Irish plays are deeply entrenched sense of place.
  • Published: 2013 (175 pg)



Kitchen Sink Realisms

  • Domestic labor has figured largely on American stages.
  • The genre  is “kitchen sink realism”.
  • Published: 2015 (304 pg)


Female Bodies on the American Stage

  • Dress size of a woman makes a bold  statement on stage!
  • Published: 2014 (239 pg)

Looking for Lorraine

  • First black female playwright
  • …whose play was produced on Broadway
  • Published: 2018 (256 pg)

Play: Raisin in the Sun

  • I’m adding this so you can see…
  • …why Hansberry was so important for the theater.
  • Opening:  New York City on March 11, 1959