Thursday 19 January 2017

Making Synge's great comedy 'relevant' ended in costly farce

Published 05/02/2013 | 17:00

CIVILISED people everywhere will nod in condign approval at the fate of the Abbey Theatre's production of a "contemporised" version of 'Playboy of the Western World'. Roddy Doyle and the Nigerian writer Bisi Adigun co-wrote an adaptation of Synge's greatest work, in which the central character of Christie Mahon was rendered as a Nigerian asylum seeker.

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This was staged at the Abbey in 2007, and an apparently slightly different version was presented the following year. The two productions led to legal action by the Nigerian against both The Abbey and Roddy Doyle, resulting in legal bills and compensation that have cost the Abbey in the region of €500,000.

Now, such an absurd amount of money could only have been squandered so frivolously in the knowledge that that the bill would ultimately be paid by that brainless dupe, the taxpayer, from whom The Abbey gets €7m a year, via the Arts Council. It is an ancient truth that subsidies too easily fertilise folly; however, the prime idiocy here was not the legal issue, but the sacrilege of making an existing masterpiece "relevant" to today's audiences.

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