By the Bog of Cats

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A: Marina Carr Pf: 1998, Dublin Pb: 1998 G: Trag. in 3 acts S: Irish Midlands, 1998 C: 8m, 5f, 1 child (f)Hester Swane, a tough 40-year-old tinker-woman, is told by the Ghost Fancier that she will die that evening. She has been abandoned after 14 years with her 7-year-old daughter by Carthage Kilbride, who is marrying a woman of 20, Caroline Cassidy. Hester swears she will get Carthage back, even though he threatens her with eviction. The Catwoman, a weird blind old crone who eats mice, warns Hester to save herself and leave. Caroline comes in her wedding dress and tries to bribe Hester to go. Caroline fetches her father Xavier, a bullish farmer, who demands that Hester leave. She offers him money towards her house and insists that she will stay. At the Cassidys', the wedding feast is being prepared, when the ghost of Hester's half-brother appears. He had his throat cut at 18. As the wedding celebrations continue with hilarious speeches, Hester suddenly appears dressed as a bride. Hester begs to be allowed to stay in her home, but even this is denied her. Hester sets light to her house and to Carthage's cattle. Visited by her half-brother's ghost, Hester reveals that she murdered him out of jealousy. Xavier comes to threaten Hester with a gun, but is sent away by Carthage. Hester's daughter is thrilled that she can go on honeymoon with her father and Caroline. Hester decides to commit suicide, and when her daughter begs to be able to go with her, Hester cuts her throat. The Ghost Fancier arrives, and as the grieving Hester dances with him, her heart is cut out.

A: Marina Carr Pf: 1998, Dublin Pb: 1998 G: Trag. in 3 acts S: Irish Midlands, 1998 C: 8m, 5f, 1 child (f)

This play represents a remarkable achievement, combining the mythic force of its model, Euripides' Medea (eerie setting, ghosts, supernatural and strange characters) with psychological empathy (all the female figures, including Hester, are shown to be loving, and the men are blustering and weak not wicked). It is arguably the most powerful reworking of a Greek tragedy on the modern stage.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).

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