Fresh Perspectives on Irish Literature
Edited By Paddy Lyons and Alison O'Malley-Younger
These shifts in culture have given Irish literature the opportunity to look afresh at its own past and, thereby, new perspectives have also opened for Irish Studies. The contributors to this volume explore these new openings; the essays examine writings from both now and the past in the new frames afforded by new times.
Paddy Lyons The Montage of Semblance: Martin McDonagh’s Dramaturgy 47
The Montage of Semblance: Martin McDonagh’s Dramaturgy Paddy Lyons ‘A play should be a thrill like a fantastic rollercoaster’ — Martin McDonagh 1. The montage of semblance A rollercoaster is an elaborate construct on which, for the time of the ride, there’s opportunity to experience change: change in the direction and pace of movement, for example, with slow climbs upwards, hurtling downhill drops, agonisingly twisting spirals; and primary to the buzz of the ride are constant shifts and switches of level. Attend to the temporal dimension of Martin McDonagh’s plays and it’s apparent the dynamic driving his plays is, too, one of shifting levels, as what’s factual and what’s fakery swap places, and swap again. Resurrection blasts the line between death and life, for instance, and in these plays is not uncommon. Billy’s death, midway through The Cripple of Inishmaan, is – so far as the audi- ence is concerned – a dramatic fact: he’s seen collapsing in a motel room in America after he coughs up blood, and word back home confirms the trip to Hollywood was fatal. Later in the play, however, dramatic fact is abruptly put in reverse, as Billy is discovered by his Aunt Kate, silhouet- ted behind a sheet that’s been serving as a cinema screen: Kate: You’re not dead at all, are you, Billy? Billy: I’m not, Aunty Kate. Kate: Well that’s good. (McDonagh, 1997: 62) 48 Paddy Lyons Later still, Billy’s death scene will turn out to have been a rehearsal for a screen test, thus...
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