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The Playboy of the Western World

A Comedy in Three Acts


  • Playwright

    John Millington (J.M.) Synge 

  • Notes

    "In writing THE PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD, as in my other plays, I have used one or two words only that I have not heard among the country people of Ireland, or spoken in my own nursery before I could read the newspapers. A certain number of the phrases I employ I have heard also from herds and fishermen along the coast from Kerry to Mayo, or from beggar-women and balladsingers nearer Dublin; and I am glad to acknowledge how much I owe to the folk imagination of these fine people. Anyone who has lived in real intimacy with the Irish peasantry will know that the wildest sayings and ideas in this play are tame indeed, compared with the fancies one may hear in any little hillside cabin in Geesala, or Carraroe, or Dingle Bay. All art is a collaboration; and there is little doubt that in the happy ages of literature, striking and beautiful phrases were as ready to the story-teller's or the playwright's hand, as the rich cloaks and dresses of his time. "
    J.M.Synge, 1907

  • Synopsis

    A small community in County Mayo is thrown into turbulance with the arrival of Christy Mahon, a mysterious stranger claiming to have killed his father. The local men aren’t sure if he's a danger and the local women find him fascinating. Michael James Flaherty the local publican takes a shine to him, and his daughter Pegeen Mike finds his company preferable to that of her dull fiancée, Shawn Keogh. However it transpires that Christy's father is not dead afterall, when Old Mahon arrives with a gaping head wound, searching for his ungrateful son.

  • Play Type

    Plays General

    Number Of Acts


  • Cast Size Male


  • Cast Size Female



  • Date of First Production

    26 January 1907

  • Production Notes

    The premiere production famously provoked riots, allegedly arising from the portrayal of Irish womanhood and the use of the word 'shift'. (Christy says of Pegeen that he would choose her even if he were "brought a drift of chosen females, standing in their shifts . . .") Yeats returned from Scotland to address the crowd on the second night, famously declaring "You have disgraced yourself again, is this to be the recurring celebration of the arrival of Irish genius?"

  • Producer

    Presented by Abbey Theatre/Amharclann na Mainistreach

  • Original Venue

    Abbey Theatre/Amharclann na Mainistreach

Original Cast  
Peasant Udolphus Wright
Honor Blake May Craig
Shawn Keogh Frank Fay
Margaret Flaherty, called "Pegeen Mike" Máire O'Neill (1)
Michael James Flaherty Arthur Sinclair
Jimmy Farrell J M Kerrigan
Philly O'Cullen J A O'Rourke
Widow Quin Sara Allgood
Old Mahon Arthur Power
Christopher Mahon W.G. Fay
Sara Tansey Brigid O'Dempsey
Susan Brady Alice O'Sullivan
Peasant Harry Young
Production Team  
Produced by W.G. Fay



  • Published in German as

  • Title

    Stücke ( Die Nebelschlucht. - Reiter zum Meer. - Die Kesselflickerhochzeit. - Der Held der westlichen Welt). Deutsch von Joachim Krehayn

  • Year


  • Published By

    Reclam Verlag Leipzig

  • Address


  • Website

  • ISBN


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  • Published in French as

  • Title

    Théâtre complet : Cavaliers de la mer ; L'Ombre de la vallée ; La Fontaine aux saints ; Les Noces du rétameur ; Le Baladin du monde occidental ; Deirdre des douleurs. Traduit par Françoise Morvan

  • Year


  • Published By

    Éditions Les Solitaires Intempestifs

  • Address

    1 Rue Gay Lussac -
    25000 Besançon

  • Website

  • ISBN


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  • Copyright Expired


The information for this entry was taken from the original production programme and Ireland's Abbey Theatre: A History 1899-1951 by Lennox Robinson, with additional information from press cuttings of the time.