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At the Black Pig's Dyke


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A: Vincent Woods Pf: 1992, Galway Pb: 1998 G: Drama in 2 acts, 2 prologues, and an epilogue; prose and rhymed verse S: Counties Leitrim and Fermanagh, Ireland, c.1940–70 C: 11m, 5f, 2 musiciansMummers perform their traditional play: the First Hero from England, who has ‘cut down the native scum’, fights with the Second Hero, ‘a Green Knight’, but both are reconciled. The Mummers discover that men have shot Lizzie Boles and her daughter Sarah. Tom Fool and Miss Funny tell the story of Jack and Lizzie: Jack Boles, a Protestant, whose father was murdered in the Troubles, woos Lizzie Flynn, who works in their shop. The wedding of Tom Fool and Miss Funny is disrupted by the intervention of a Republican bigot Frank Beirne, who wants Lizzie for himself. Lizzie marries Jack and crosses the border to live with him in Fermanagh. Their daughter Sarah is born soon after. Jack is murdered by men with masks, and Frank Beirne gets his shop and asks Lizzie to marry him. Sarah marries Hugh Brolly, whose brother is killed by the British army. The Mummers come, but Hugh leaves, supposedly to work, but in fact ‘risin’ the black pig' with IRA men. When he learns that explosives he is to deliver are intended for the wedding of well-liked Protestant neighbours, he dumps the explosives and phones the police. Frank Beirne and fellow terrorists, played by the Mummers, catch Hugh and shoot him, then arrive at Lizzie's door.

A: Vincent Woods Pf: 1992, Galway Pb: 1998 G: Drama in 2 acts, 2 prologues, and an epilogue; prose and rhymed verse S: Counties Leitrim and Fermanagh, Ireland, c.1940–70 C: 11m, 5f, 2 musicians

In one of the most powerful plays written about the Northern Irish ‘Troubles’, Woods's use of Mummers and his poetic diction at once reinforce the awareness of the primeval ritual of revenge killings and at the same time distance the audience from the horror of the murders, avoiding sensationalist naturalism to concentrate on the underlying desperation of the conflict.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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