Purple Dust (1940): a Pastoral Frolic

  • John O’Riordan
Part of the Macmillan Studies in Anglo-Irish Literature book series (MSAIL)


Properly staged, Purple Dust is one of O’Casey’s most riotous comedies: in the words of Nathan, ‘a ringing, moving melody orchestrated with a resounding slapstick’. The tone throughout is broad farce, but farce not in the naturalistic sense. There is plenty of irony and symbolism, and fantasy like morning dew; but as the drama unfolds, we are confronted not so much with conventional hilarity as with a strongly suggested atmosphere of an allegory, as apocalyptic in its final vision as in the previous The Star Turns Red. (The significance of the subtitle, ‘A Wayward Comedy in Three Acts’, is a portent.)


Electric Light Golden Coin Small Stick English Character Royal Theatre 
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© John O’Riordan 1984

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  • John O’Riordan

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