Each week the expert staff of the renowned Drama Book Shop in Manhattan, just seconds away from Broadway, recommends plays that are new, interesting, or just flat-out fantastic. Picking the best of published work, they help keep us up to date and aware of the little known, broadening our horizons and encouraging dialogue. Order a play from The Drama Book Shop, read it, and e-mail them with your thoughts–they'd love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org.
THIS WEEK’S DRAMA BOOK SHOP PICKS:
The Walworth Farce and The New Electric Ballroom by Enda Walsh
Modern Irish theatre enthusiasts who haven’t already will want to check out Enda Walsh’s new two-play collection, The Walworth Farce and The New Electric Ballroom. Walsh’s keen talent for witty, absurd dialogue (and monologues) makes these plays a delight and a challenge for the reader and audience member. They both explore Irish mythmaking and creative interpretations of the past.
The Walworth Farce and The New Electric Ballroom were both produced by The Druid Theatre in Galway and moved on to win Edinburgh Fringe First Awards in 2007 and 2008, respectively. Both made their American debuts at St Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn.
The Walworth Farce revolves around Dinny, an Irish man, and his two sons in a subsidized apartment in South London dramatizing the heroic tale of his departure from Ireland. Their daily ritual of cross-dressing, carrying around cardboard coffins and playing old Irish ballads is interrupted by a change in routine and a fourth member of the cast unwillingly joins their farce. These changes also cause the sons to question the truth behind Dinny’s story. A humorous and exhausting tale of male bravado and the crippling fear of change, subverts the legacy of Synge, Yeats, Friel and even McDonagh in a surprising and disturbing way.
Cast: 3m, 1w
A companion piece to The Walworth Farce in theme and structure, The New Electric Ballroom is set in a poxy harbour town in the west of Ireland. Three unmarried sisters live together in the family house and relive their glory days of adolescence leading up to one night at the New Electric Ballroom that shattered their dreams of romance and escape. Their charade is occasionally interrupted by Patsy, the lonely fishmonger, with his own stories of life in the village and social anxiety. The play is equal parts Three Sisters and Beauty Queen of Leenane with a gorgeous lyricism that turns universal heartbreak and disappointment into a funny and bleak exploration of storytelling and the inability to move forward and take risks.
Cast: 3w, 1m
Scenes/Monologues: Lyrical monologues for men and women (40s, 60s), funny and bizarre scenes for men and women (20s, 40s, 60s).
Recommended by: Kate
The Drama Book Shop, Inc.
"The Walworth Farce" and "The New Electric Ballroom"
Praise for "The Walworth Farce":
"Complex, dark, and emotionally rich. . . . The central conceit, that this is a farce within a tragedy, is a master stroke of meta-theatricality. . . . It rewards with a theatrical experience that claws at the imagination for days afterwards."-"Variety"
Praise for "The New Electric Ballroom":
"For the second year in a row at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe] Enda Walsh supplied the most intoxicating and original piece of writing with his pitch-dark but tender-hearted play. . . . "The New Electric Ballroom" affirms his growing reputation as a contender to take his place in the long, distinguished line of great Irish playwrights."-"The New York Times"
This volume brings together two masterworks by the London-based Irish playwright Enda Walsh: unmistakably Irish, galloping gothic comedies about the use of theater and oral traditions to warp family history. In "The Walworth Farce," one-play-playwright Dinny forces his adult sons Sean and Blake to enact his own version of why they are living in a rotting London flat, in exile from their native Cork. "The New Electric Ballroom" is set in a small fishing village in Ireland, where spinster sisters Breda and Clara, and their much-younger sibling Ada, replay a scandalous incident at a dance hall when they were in the bloom of their youth.
Enda Walsh has been recognized by numerous awards for his plays, which include "Disco Pigs," "Bedbound," "Small Things," and "Chatroom." He also wrote the screenplay for "Hunger," winner of the Camera d'Or award at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages.