© 2018

The Comic Everywoman in Irish Popular Theatre

Political Melodrama, 1890-1925

  • Offers new insights into Irish performance history, with a particular focus on the Irish female performance

  • Interrogates the relationship between the “patriotic plays” and the established theatrical canon

  • Includes original research drawn from a series of workshops and a performance of the author’s own script


Part of the Palgrave Studies in Comedy book series (PSCOM)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. Susanne Colleary
    Pages 1-3
  3. Susanne Colleary
    Pages 5-27
  4. Susanne Colleary
    Pages 29-50
  5. Susanne Colleary
    Pages 51-82
  6. Susanne Colleary
    Pages 83-106
  7. Susanne Colleary
    Pages 107-110
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 111-130

About this book


This book is a comprehensive study of comic women in performance as Irish Political Melodrama from 1890 to 1925. It maps out the performance contexts of the period, such as Irish “poor” theatre both reflecting and complicating narratives of Irish Identity under British Rule. The study investigates the melodramatic aesthetic within these contexts and goes on to analyse a selection of the melodramas by the playwrights J.W. Whitbread and P.J. Bourke. In doing so, the analyses makes plain the comic structures and intent that work across both character and action, foregrounding comic women at the centre of the discussion. Finally, the book applies a “practice as research” dimension to the study. Working through a series of workshops, rehearsals and a final performance, Colleary investigates comic identity and female performance through a feminist revisionist lens. She ultimately argues that the formulation of the Comic Everywoman as staged “Comic” identity can connect beyond the theatre to her “Everyday” self. This book is intended for those interested in theatre histories, comic women and in popular performance. 


the comic everywoman performance identity female everyday melodramatic Ireland patriotic plays practice as research P.J. Bourke J.W. Whitbread

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Technology SligoSligoIreland

About the authors

Susanne Colleary is a lecturer and theatre practitioner at Sligo Institute of Technology, Ireland, and is an adjunct lecturer at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. She is the author of Performance and Identity in Irish Stand-Up Comedy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) and has published on Irish theatre, stand-up comedy and television satire. She is also a guest reviewer and essayist for Arena Arts Show on RTÉ Radio One.

Bibliographic information