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    ‘Most foul, strange and unnatural’: Refractions of Modernity in Conor McPherson’s The Weir


    Fogarty, Matthew (2018) ‘Most foul, strange and unnatural’: Refractions of Modernity in Conor McPherson’s The Weir. The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies, 17. ISSN 2009-0374

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    Abstract

    In his analysis of Irish Theatre in the 1990s, Victor Merriman argues that Celtic Tiger dramas bifurcated ‘drama itself into a theatre of social critique, and a theatre of diversionary spectacle’ (2011, 214). This ensured that plays seeking to critique contemporary Irish culture were shuffled to the margins, while the more diversionary spectacles continuously reproduced what Merriman describes as ‘reductive stereotypes of Irishness,’ which served only to alienate the population of Tiger Ireland from a ‘national past in which the correlatives of such figures presumably exist and make sense’. Although Merriman’s appraisal is not entirely without merit, this paper demonstrates that the Gate Theatre’s 1998 production of Conor McPherson’s The Weir offered a point of critical resistance to this bifurcated mode of theatre production. Written in the midst of the various political debates generated in the run-up to the ratification of the Amsterdam Treaty in 1997, The Weir manipulates the familiar tropes of the Gothic genre as it juxtapositions this crucial moment in Ireland’s socio-political development against the equally pivotal point at which the Free State government launched the Shannon Electrification Scheme in the 1920s. In doing so, McPherson circumvents the neoliberal expectations foisted on Irish theatrical enterprises during the late 1990s and smuggles a ‘social critique’ onto one of Ireland’s foremost theatrical stages, beneath the palatable veneer of a play that ostensibly appears to offer little more than a ‘diversionary spectacle’.

    Item Type: Article
    Keywords: Irish Studies; Irish Drama; Celtic Tiger; Conor McPherson; Gothic Literature; Irish Gothic; Clerical Sex Abuse; Amsterdam Treaty; Shannon Electrification Scheme; Neoliberalism;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Arts,Celtic Studies and Philosophy > School of English, Media & Theatre Studies > English
    Item ID: 10502
    Depositing User: IR Editor
    Date Deposited: 19 Feb 2019 10:42
    Journal or Publication Title: The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies
    Refereed: Yes
    URI:

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