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Free Content Pack up your troubles and smile, smile, smile: comic plays about the legacy of the Troubles

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There have been several plays concerned with the history, and legacy, of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, produced since the ceasefires of 1994, that have chosen to portray events comically. The article will focus on five: A Night in November (1994) by Marie Jones; The Lieutenant of Inishmore (2001) by Martin McDonagh; The History of the Troubles (Accordin' to my Da) (2002) by Martin Lynch, Connor Grimes and Alan McKee; and Caught Red-Handed (2002) by Tim Loane.

The article has four main aims: firstly, to offer a brief analysis of the comedy of these plays; secondly, to argue that these plays offer audiences, in Northern Ireland and elsewhere, an important, and often therapeutic, way of responding to the Troubles; thirdly, to argue that many critics have failed to realize the significance of some of these plays, in part as a result of their failure to appreciate the function of the comedy; and, finally, to argue that it is through an analysis of the comedy that insights may be gained as to why some of these plays have travelled while others have played only to local audiences.

Keywords: (the) Troubles; Gary Mitchell; Henri Bergson; Northern Ireland; Sigmund Freud; comedy theory

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/cost.1.1.43/1

Affiliations: British Institute for Humour Research, University of Surrey.

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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  • Comedy Studies covers multiple aspects of comedy, with articles about both contemporary and historical comedy, interviews with practicing comedians and writers, reviews, letters and editorials. The journal seeks to be instrumental in creating interdisciplinary discourse about the nature and practice of comedy, providing a forum for the disparate voices of comedians, academics and writers.
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