The Front Cloth sets out its stall for the work. It introduces the reader to the shape of the book, which begins by tracing the socio-historical and cultural contexts that informed the world of the popular plays in Ireland. It speaks briefly to melodramatic aesthetics, and it outlines the dual approaches of academic and practice-as-research strands of analysis that form the spine of the book. It sketches the performance possibilities of Irish comic women on popular stages. It outlines the nature and function of the comic everywoman as a means to recognise comic women and their audiences in popular theatre during some of the most turbulent years in Irish history.