Itching and Scratching and a Stale Stink of Poteen: Representations of women in J.M. Synge's The Playboy of the Western World

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


Staged in 1907 one of the most famously controversial plays in Irish dramatic work is J.M. Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World. When William Fay, playing Christy Mahon, declared “It’s Pegeen I’m seeking only, and what’d I care if you brought me a drift of chosen females, standing in their shifts itself, maybe, from this place to the Eastern World” the Abbey audience expressed its indignation and outrage. The suggestion that an Irish woman would parade in her underwear inviting and accepting sexual admiration was so outrageous and unacceptable that the production played the remainder of its run amid riots and controversy.

Delivered as part of a lecture series entitled 'Portraits of the Artist as Young Women in Irish Theatre History' this lecture considered J.M. Synge’s representation of Irish life and culture and, in particular, his representation of female characters that so enraged audiences of that time.
Period05 Mar 2019
Event titlePortraits of the Artist as Young Women: Irish Theatre History Lecture Series
Event typeSeminar
LocationWexford, IrelandShow on map
Degree of RecognitionRegional


  • J.M. Synge
  • The Playboy of the Western World
  • Feminism
  • Irish theatre
  • Irish Theater
  • Pegeen Mike