The Play

‘Sean O’Casey’s First Drama Acted for the First Time in New York’
  • Brooks Atkinson


Although Juno and the Paycock, The Plough and the Stars, and The Silver Tassie have been acted in New York, Sean O’Casey’s first play, Shadow of a Gunman, has somewhat eluded ‘the crossroads of the world’ until the Abbey Theatre mounted it at the Martin Beck Theatre Saturday evening.1 As a play it is less firmly rooted in character than its two illustrious successors, but obviously it is cut from the same pattern. Set in a slatternly Dublin tenement in 1920 it brings to the stage the same garrulous, shiftless people; the same gusty humor enlivens the dialogue and the same ironic tragedy smolders under the comedy at the end. Even without Juno and the Paycock, which enriches the figures and the colors of O’Casey’s pattern, you would recognize Shadow of a Gunman as the work of a man of extraordinary stature. Now he is partially blind and he is living apart from his country-men in London; and it may be that his best work is already finished. But as long as there are Irish comedians like Arthur Sinclair, Barry Fitzgerald and F.J. McCormick Juno and the Paycock will be one of the great realistic plays of this century.


Irish Company Comic Writing Theatre Company Tenement Type Military Authority 
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Copyright information

© Brooks Atkinson and Robert G. Lowery 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brooks Atkinson

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