Real Versus Illusory in Enda Walsh’s The Walworth Farce and The New Electric Ballroom

Tanya Dean

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    Abstract

    The 2009 Theatre Communications Group publication of Enda Walsh’s two plays, The New Electric Ballroom and The Walworth Farce, is a double-sided edition; on one cover, a smiling woman in fifties garb is pictured riding jauntily on a bicycle. Flip to the other side, and a black-and-white photograph of a grimacing man flexing a mighty bicep is featured. In his New York Times review of The New Electric Ballroom, Charles Isherwood noted, “In both plays the bonds of family are kept pulled tight — to the point of strangulation, more or less — by the continual re­enactment of a shared mythology that has become a sort of sacred text, although in the case of the newer play, the tone is bleaker, and the family is female.” Both works exemplify Walsh’s fascination with storytelling; The New Electric Ballroom explores the traditional oratorical mode of storytelling so often featured in Walsh’s plays (Bedbound, The Small Things, Penelope), whereas The Walworth Farce extends this tradition of storytelling into a self-conscious metatheatricality. Both modes of performance – storytelling and metatheatricality – are employed in delineating the theatricalist notion of the "Real" and the "Illusory." This binary consists of a world within (or without) the play that constitutes the theatrical incarnation of the "real world", which is highlighted by and contrasted to the "illusory world". Of course this is contrasted against the Real of the theatre itself with its seats and audience, and the Illusory of the playworld with its sets and actors.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Theatre of Enda Walsh
    EditorsMary Caulfield, Ian R. Walsh
    Place of PublicationDublin
    PublisherCarysfort Press
    Pages119-130
    ISBN (Print)9781909325777
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

    Keywords

    • Contemporary Irish Theatre
    • Walworth Farce
    • New Electric Ballroom
    • Enda Walsh

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