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Purple Dust


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A: Sean O'Casey W: 1937–40 Pf: 1945, Liverpool Pb: 1940; rev. 1951, 1960 G: Com. in 3 acts S: Chamber in a 16th-c. mansion in rural Ireland, 1930s C: 12m, 3fCyril Poges and Basil Stoke, two English businessmen, buy an old Irish mansion, where they intend to live off the land with their mistresses, who originally come from the area. To the amusement of the workmen called in to refurbish the rotting building, the newcomers perform what they imagine to be a country dance. Basil's mistress Avril flirts outrageously with O'Killigain the foreman. While the Englishmen try to get the house in order and immerse themselves in its past, locals arrive trying to sell them animals. Basil goes out riding and immediately falls. The ceiling is broken through by a workman installing a light. The next day the Englishmen have slept badly and regret having settled large annuities on their mistresses, thus making them independent. A huge garden roller crashes through a wall, and Basil shoots a cow believing it to be a bull. An antique desk is smashed by incompetent workmen, and eventually the constant rain leads to flooding. Poges's mistress has ridden off with her Irish lover, and as the floodwaters begin to immerse the building, O'Killigain rows Avril to safety.

A: Sean O'Casey W: 1937–40 Pf: 1945, Liverpool Pb: 1940; rev. 1951, 1960 G: Com. in 3 acts S: Chamber in a 16th-c. mansion in rural Ireland, 1930s C: 12m, 3f

This play offers an enjoyably satirical view of English urban characters trying to accommodate to the ways of rural Ireland, and, as so often with O'Casey, opposes the life force of the native Irish to the absurd and desiccated attitude of their supposed betters. Regrettably, the plot consists of little more than an accumulation of incidents, rather in the manner of a television situation comedy.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Sean O'Casey (1880—1964) playwright and writer


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