I first read these two little plays in an Irish Literature course in college. At the time, I struggled with the language and found them generally uninteresting. Although they are still not my favorite, I was able to better appreciate them this time.
The language, that I originally deemed difficult, is actually what I most appreciate about “The Playboy of the Western World.” The language forces itself into an Irish accent and forms the atmosphere of the play. Playboy is a comedy and really pokes fun at the Catholic Church which is seen in the main character being named Christy. I recommend reading the play with this in mind. I struggled with Christy being celebrated for “killing his da.” This strange premise is what makes this play difficult for me to enjoy.
“Riders to the Sea” is my favorite of the two plays. I prefer the characters of Riders over the characters in Playboy. In Riders, there is so much pain and loss and I appreciate the way this is reflected in the characters. This one act play is backed full of emotion and as a mother, I can’t imagine the pain of Maurya.
Both of these plays by J.M. Synge are an important part of Irish Literature and I recommend taking the time to read them. I want to see them performed as I feel they are probably more captivating when performed and I want to see Synge’s command of language actually spoken.
As these are Irish, it seems fitting to read them while sipping Irish Breakfast Tea. This is one of my favorite teas and is best with a little cream and sugar.