A: Sean O'Casey Pf: 1949, Newcastle upon Tyne Pb: 1949 G: Drama in 3 acts S: Garden of a house in a small Irish town, 1940s C: 16m, 4fOn a hot summer's day, a Cock with deep black plumage dances through the garden. The elderly Michael Marthraun and Sailor Mahan enter and bemoan the disruptive influence of the attractive young Loreleen, Michael's daughter by his first wife. Michael wonders whether she is really his daughter or a being possessed by a bird, a belief kindled by an old charlatan Shanaar. The housemaid Marion bursts out of the house saying that the Cock is running wild indoors. The men hide in fear, while a ‘Messenger’ calmly takes the Cock off with him. As magic events threaten the complacent Catholic certainty of the township, the priest Father Domineer mobilizes the police to hunt down the Cock. Meanwhile, the three women (Loreleen, Michael's second wife, and Marion) appear, bathed in light and wearing bright clothes. They drink to the Cock, and eventually even the men join the drinking and dancing. Father Domineer arrives furious, and strikes dead a Lorry Driver who is ‘livin' in sin’. The police and the army hunt the Cock, and Father Domineer exorcizes Michael's house. The Cock appears, shoots the men with harmless bullets, and farts so powerfully that their trousers are blown off. Loreleen is beaten and made to leave her home, accompanied by Michael's wife and Marion. The Cock is banished, and Michael finds himself quite alone.
A: Sean O'Casey Pf: 1949, Newcastle upon Tyne Pb: 1949 G: Drama in 3 acts S: Garden of a house in a small Irish town, 1940s C: 16m, 4f
Unfortunately O'Casey is remembered almost solely for his realistic Dublin trilogy, but this play, one of O'Casey's favourites, shows him able confidently to write a poetic fantasy. The Cock (a bird and also slang for a penis) represents the life force which the Irish Catholic Church did its best to suppress, a kind of Hibernian Bacchae. Significantly, it is the women who manage to break free, while most of the men remain timid and puritanical.