THIRTY-TWO years ago, W. B. Yeats stood in the wings of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin and listened with a sinking heart to the cat-calls of the infuriated Irish audience seeing for the first time J. M. Synge's Playboy of the Western World. Through Yeats' intervention and persistence a future was made for The Playboy. His death was honoured by Mr Ashley Dukes at Monday evening's revival of Synge's play at the Mercury Theatre.
I have heard that Italy will tolerate no undignified reference to spaghetti in its entertainment. That Mexicans refuse to be depicted as knife-throwers and cattle-rustlers. That the Chinese resent appearing as stranglers or coolies. That wh,en James Cagney said in his recent film, "I'll soon be home boys, I
can smell Jersey City," Jersey corn
plained. I have heard all that and therefore I need not be surprised that Ire/and couldn't take Synge's joke against itself, however beautiful the words sounded. But to us, unconcerned with the implications, removed from the struggle by time and distance, J. M. Synge's Piagboy remains like a lovely, rich, plum-stuffed matured cake of legend, its humour as mellow and soft as its similes, and we can't Sind it in our delight to care whether it be set in reality or in imagination.
The Irish players, imported to London for the occasion, play as though they loved it.