Toibin's drama brilliantly re-enacts and evokes the personalities and workings of the Abbey Theatre in 1926. Lady Gregory, Yeats and O'Casey defend their daring play against the stifling mores of the day and the rule of the rabble and the widows of the 1916 leaders. It is a timely reminder of the perennial conflict between the demands of art and of politics in Irish cultural life. As Sean O'Casey addresses the ghost of Lady Gregory he recalls Yeats' Monday evening gatherings and early visits to Coole Park, and the staging, rehearsal and enacting of The Plough and the Stars, itself commissioned for the tenth anniversary of the 1916 Rising. This inner drama has walk-on parts for the principals: Abbey manager Lennox Robinson, directors WB and Mrs Yeats, government-appointed board-member George O'Brien, actors Shelagh Delaney, Ria Mooney, Miss Crowe and McCormack, and street demagogues Hannah Sheehy Skeffington, Mrs Tom Pearse and Maud Gonne protesting the mockery of martyrs.
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"The creation of beauty in a broken place, of beautiful words when there are only slogans, of images that pierce the soul in an age when the belittling noise, the swagger and the curse reigned in the streets?..." WB Yeats"