When Walter Macken dedicated his first novel to his Mammy, Agnes, he did not expect the censors to declare it ‘obscene’. How does a social-problem novel by a good Catholic offend the official arbiters of taste?
The Playboy Riots were a notoriously rowdy series of audience protests in the Abbey Theatre. The patrons were so offended by The Playboy of the Western World their loud singing and heckling drowned out the actors. This much-studied moment in Irish cultural history deserves a deep-dive into the play itself and the over-reaction to its performance.
With guest, Dr Lloyd (Maedhbh) Houston, I discussed the play and the uproar it caused, paying particular attention to drunken singing and the comedy act of one protestor, Mr Overcoat.
The scrutiny of the censor was confined to the English language. But works in Irish, the other language of the state, were also censored by editors, bureaucrats and catholic reactionaries. No language was allowed to explore scandalous ‘sex feelings’.