The Playboy of the Western World

This show has now closed, click here for a listing of current and future London shows

Previewed 17 September 2011, Opened 27 September 2011, Closed 26 November 2011 at the Old Vic Theatre in London

A major revival of J M Synge's rich Irish comedy The Playboy of the Western World in London starring Niamh Cusack, Ruth Negga and Robert Sheehan and directed by John Crowley.

Set in a small village in the west coast of County Mayo, John Millington Synge's play is a lyrical comedy which tells the story of the lonely dreamer Christy Mahan who wanders into a pub, claiming that he has killed his father. Captivating the locals with his tales of bravery he becomes an instant hero but it turns out that there's an unexpected twist in his tale. This savagely funny Irish classic was first produced in 1907 and was met with rioting and controversy when it premiered, sending shockwaves across the dramatic world.

The cast for The Playboy of the Western World in London features Robert Sheehan as 'Christy Mahan', Niamh Cusack as 'Widow Quin' and Ruth Negga as 'Pegeen Mike' with Gwendolen Chatfield, Karen Cogan, John Cormack, Drew Dillon, Christopher Doyle, Diarmuid de Faoite, James Greene, Frank Laverty, Grainne Lydon, Gary Lydon, Bronagh Taggart and Kevin Trainor. The production is directed by John Crowley with designs by Scott Pask, lighting by Howard Harrison, music by Philip Chevron and sound by Christopher Shutt. Niamh Cusack's recent West End credits includes Thea Sharrock's revival of Terence Rattigan's Cause Celebre (Old Vic Theatre 2011) and Anna Mackmin's revival of Brian Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa (Old Vic Theatre 2008). John Crowley's recent London theatre directing credit include John Kolvenbach's play Love Song Neve Campbell, Kristen Johnston, Michael McKean and Cillian Murphy (Ambassadors Theatre 2007).

"Playboy of the Western World, among other things, really does suggest that they made their own entertainment in those days. Before TV and its stultifying conformity, there was more imagination and inventiveness in this one lonely shebeen, with its handful of drunken talespinners, than in a whole air-conditioned MediaCity of identikit TV drama writers... Robert Sheehan is a fine, awkward, tormented Christy, with his humble, ingratiating stoop... There are two great parts for women here, too, both energetically seized upon. Ruth Negga is an imperiously sexy Pegeen, and Niamh Cusack is a delight as the Widow Quinn... Scott Pask's set revolves to show us inside and out, with a change from night to day of beautiful simplicity... The director, John Crowley, has given us a terrific version of this unique work, which is particularly easy to get wrong: vivid and comic, grotesque and haunting." The Sunday Times

"John Crowley's picturesque production choreographs the chaos spectacularly. It begins as it means to go on, with comedy to the fore: of the line of peasant women playing accordion and striking up a song, several are men wrapped in shawls, looking ridiculous, which is just as it should be in a play in which the men are made bigger fools of than the women; a cloth depicting the untamed coast of County Mayo drops to reveal the back of the stone shebeen, which then twizzles round to reveal the pub's tattily authentic interior... Synge's comic but also profound point is that people may delight in the idea of brutality but are horrified by violence. That 'there's a great gap between a gallow's story and a dirty deed' comes across loud and clear in this passionate production." The Mail on Sunday

The Playboy of the Western World in London at the Old Vic Theatre previewed from 17 September 2011, opened on 27 September 2011 and closed on 26 November 2011.