Did You Hear the One About the Irishman . . . ? is a painful love story divided by sectarianism, and punctuated by the tasteless racist jokes of an anti-Irish comedian.
Allison’s family don’t want her to marry Brian, a Catholic whose brother is serving a life sentence for terrorist offences. Brian’s family don’t want him to marry Allison, as she is a Protestant, and the niece of a Unionist politician. The play parallels scenes of their two families, doubling characters to bring together two groups so impossibly divided. Allison and Brian’s brilliant optimistic hope that they will rise above the feud becomes heartbreaking as the play shows that the perpetuation of conflict is more powerful than either of them.
Did You Hear the One About the Irishman . . . ? was first produced during a Royal Shakespeare Company tour of America in 1985; this revised version was first performed in 1987 at the King’s Head Theatre, London.