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Shadow of a Gunman


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AT: On the Run A: Sean O'Casey Pf: 1923, Dublin Pb: 1925 G: Trag. in 2 acts S: A tenement house in Dublin, 1920 C: 8m, 3fIn a Dublin tenement house during the war between the English authorities and the Irish Republican Army, Donal Davoren, a would-be poet, shares a room with Seumas Shields, an indolent pedlar. Maguire, a fellow pedlar, calls to leave a bag in their room. The landlord, having heard a rumour that Davoren is an IRA gunman on the run, gives the two young men their notice to quit. Davoren is flattered to think that he is mistaken for a brave fighter, especially when the attractive young Minnie Powell is attracted to his heroism. Other tenement dwellers come to pay court to Davoren, who basks in this glory until he learns that Maguire has been killed in an ambush. That night shots are heard outside, and soon the Black and Tans (English auxiliaries) surround the house. The terrified Seumas and Davoren discover that Maguire's bag contains explosives. Minnie bravely takes it up to her room. She is arrested and gets shot when the Black and Tan lorry is ambushed. Seumas reassures himself that he was not to blame, and Davoren assumes the mantle of the suffering poet.

AT: On the Run A: Sean O'Casey Pf: 1923, Dublin Pb: 1925 G: Trag. in 2 acts S: A tenement house in Dublin, 1920 C: 8m, 3f

This was the first play by O'Casey, at the age of 43, to meet with success, and, together with his other Dublin plays, made him the darling of the Abbey Theatre. Its blending of comedy and terror and its brilliant depiction of contemporary Dublin at once elevated him to being one of Ireland's major playwrights. His satirical but understanding depiction of the sentimentality, self-dramatization, and fake heroism of the Irish provides urban echoes of The Playboy of the Western World and would remain a recurrent element in his work.

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards) — Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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