Brian Friel: The Gentle Island

(2954 words)

The Gentle Island was Brian Friel’s eighth stage play, and premiered on 30 November 1971 at the Olympia Theatre, Dublin. Although initially the play’s subject appears to be familial and parochial – the lives of the sole survivors of a tiny, island community off the west coast of the Irish Republic, and the impact on them of the arrival of two visitors from the mainland – its concerns are much wider. It explores many of the crucial issues affecting contemporaneous Irish culture, not least questions of identity, sexuality and gender, language and authority.

The play was composed during a period of profound political, cultural and economic crisis on the island of Ireland. Its opening scene depicts the i…

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Parker, Michael. "The Gentle Island". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 15 September 2008
[, accessed 01 July 2015.]