John Bull's Other Island

Definition

Theater

  • A play by George Bernard Shaw, first performed in1904 at the Royal Court Theatre. Originally intended for Dublin'sAbbey Theatre but rejected by W. B. Yeats, it set out to show an English character in the same ridiculous light as Irishmen were usually presented on the English stage. Shaw also argued for Irish independence, both in the play itself and in his provocative preface (written in 1906).

    The plot concerns Larry Doyle, an Irish businessman who hasbeen successful in England; on a visit to his home town with his partner,Thomas Broadbent, Doyle sees his ageing father, whose political viewsnow clash with his, and Nora, his old sweetheart. The townspeopleask him to run for Parliament as a Home Ruler but retract the offer when they realize how his views have changed. Instead, they make the offerto the well-meaning Englishman Broadbent, who also wins the hand of Nora. The local (unfrocked) priest, Father Keegan, becomes hostile, however,as Broadbent makes plans to lure tourists into town with a new hoteland golf course. The role of Father Keegan was first played by HarleyGranville-barker, who produced a series of Shaw's plays atthe Royal Court.

    During the play's London run a command performance was held forKing Edward VII, who laughed so hard that he broke his chair. The incidentwas reported in the press and helped to make Shaw's reputation.

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