Plays by Enda Walsh

Lynndie’s Gotta Gun

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Enda Walsh's Lynndie's Gotta Gun is a short play subtitled 'A play for former US soldier Private Lynndie England'. It was written in the light of the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal of 2004, following which US Army Reserve Soldier Lynndie England was sentenced to three years in prison for her part in the abuse.

The play presents Lynndie as a children's party clown who attacks an unnamed Man with a variety of weapons including a large fish, a frying pan and a cream cake. The Man says he is looking for his son. Finally, after an ineffectual interrogation, she shoots him dead. When a ten-year-old boy enters, she turns the gun on him.

Lynndie’s Gotta Gun was first performed by Artistas Unidos, a not-for-profit community organisation, at Teatro Nacional D. Maria II in Lisbon on 16 June 2005. The piece formed part of the Confêrenca de Imprensa e Outras Aldrabices, a collection of sketches inspired by the writings of Harold Pinter. The play was directed by Jorge Silva Melo and designed by Rita Lopes Alves and João Calvário. It was performed by Gonçalo Waddingtin and Joana Bárcia.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Enda Walsh's play Misterman, written for a solo performer, is a study of one man’s descent into religious mania in small-town Ireland. It was first produced by Landmark Productions and Galway Arts Festival, and performed at the Black Box Theatre, Galway, as part of the Galway Arts Festival, on 11 July 2011 (previews from 7 July). (An earlier version of Misterman, performed by Enda Walsh and directed by Pat Kiernan, was produced by Corcadorca Theatre Company at the Granary Theatre in Cork in April 1999.)

The play's action is set in 'an abandoned depot/dilapidated factory' in Inishfree, where loner Thomas Magill lives out his days, interacting with the people of the town via tape-recordings he has made of their voices, or by impersonating them himself. Magill is a fierce evangelist, disgusted by the ungodliness of the townspeople. He knows that jovial Dwain Flynn is a miserable drunk, that Timmy O’Leary enslaves his lovely mother, and that sweet Mrs Cleary is a blasphemous flirt. He is convinced that it’s up to him to save the sinful place, but his deranged mental state leads to dire consequences for him and the town.

The Landmark Productions/Galway Arts Festival production was directed by Enda Walsh and designed by Jamie Vartan. It was performed by Cillian Murphy (who had appeared in Walsh's Disco Pigs fifteen years earlier) with the voices of Marcella Riordan, Alice Sykes, Eanna Breathnach, Niall Buggy, JD Kelleher, Simone Kirby, Mikel Murfi, Morna Regan, Eileen Walsh and Barry Ward. The production transferred to St Ann’s Warehouse, New York, on 30 November 2011, and the Lyttelton auditorium of the National Theatre, London, on 18 April 2012 (previews from 14 April).

My Friend Duplicity

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Enda Walsh's My Friend Duplicity is a one-act duologue with themes that foreshadow his later play Ballyturk. It was first performed as part of the ‘Impossible Things Before Breakfast’ staged readings at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 2010.

The play's action takes place in a space containing a small desk. Fergal (aged sixty) and Jean (aged twenty-three) meet every day to talk and conjure up a world of fantasy.

The premiere production at the Traverse Theatre was directed by Vicky Featherstone and performed by Niall Buggy and Olga Wehrly.

In an interview with Charlotte Higgins for The Guardian (published 10 August 2010), Walsh said of the play: 'It's about my relationship with "my work". ... All I am doing is sitting at a desk all day dreaming up scenarios.'

The New Electric Ballroom

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Enda Walsh's The New Electric Ballroom is a dark fable of the emotionally stultifying effects of small-town life. Written as a companion piece to Walsh's play, The Walworth Farce (2006), it was first performed by Druid Theatre Company at the Galway Arts Festival on 14 July 2008 and later at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh.

The play is set in a living room/kitchen in a house in a remote fishing village, where three sisters – Breda, Clara and the youngest, Ada – spend their days obsessively reminiscing about their halcyon days at the New Electric Ballroom. They seem trapped by darker memories of something resembling romance, until Patsy, a local fishmonger, offers the chance of escape.

In his Foreword to Enda Walsh Plays: Two (Nick Hern Books, 2014), Walsh writes: 'as I was writing [The Walworth Farce] I had already decided to write a companion piece called The New Electric Ballroom. Both plays I think of as very Irish – plays about a shared family story where a person visiting will somehow force the truth out of that uncertain history. The New Electric Ballroom was quieter – more elegiac – but again it became about the pressures of the environment on these isolated characters.'

The Druid Theatre Company production was directed by Enda Walsh and designed by Sabine Dargent. It was performed by Rosaleen Linehan, Val Lilley, Catherine Walsh and Mikel Murfi. The production went on to win a Fringe First Award at the 2008 Edinburgh Festival Fringe and was revived on tour in 2009.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Based on the 2006 film written and directed by John Carney, Once is a musical with a book by Enda Walsh and music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová (who both starred in the original film). The musical was originally developed at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in April 2011; it was first performed at New York Theatre Workshop on 15 November 2011.

The musical is performed with an onstage group of musicians and singers who are already mid-session as the audience enters. The narrative action follows that of the film: when an Irish busker, 'Guy', and a young Czech mother, 'Girl', meet through a shared love of music, their songwriting sparks a deep connection and a tender, longing romance that neither of them could have expected.

The New York Theatre Workshop production was directed by John Tiffany with movement by Steven Hoggett. It was designed by Bob Crowley. The cast included Steve Kazee as Guy and Cristin Milioti as Girl.

The production subsequently transferred to the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, New York, on 18 March 2012, where it won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Book.

Once received its European premiere at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin, on 22 February 2013, before transferring to the Phoenix Theatre, London, on 9 April 2013 (previews from 16 March). The cast included Declan Bennett as Guy and Zrinka Cvitešić as Girl.

In his Author's Note to the published edition (Nick Hern Books, 2013), Walsh writes 'The story of Once existed in movie form but needed its own stage style, and also its own specific stage language and pace. Really the key to that was the 'Girl' character, who, on page one, became the driving force, the idiosyncratic swagger of the piece, the person who would change everything'.


Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Enda Walsh’s Penelope is a tragicomic reinterpretation of the classic Greek myth of Penelope, wife of Odysseus, whose story is recounted in Homer’s Odyssey. Penelope was first performed by Druid Theatre Company in Druid Lane Theatre at the Galway Arts Festival on 13 July 2010. The production subsequently toured to Edinburgh, Helsinki and New York. (A version of the play in German had previously been performed at Theater Oberhausen, Germany, in February 2010.)

The play concerns the attempts of four men to win the heart of Penelope in the absence of her warrior husband, Odysseus, who is away fighting the Trojan wars. Quinn, Dunne, Fitz and Burns are supposedly the last of a long succession of suitors; all that remains of a fifth, Murray, is a bloodstain on the wall of the drained swimming pool in which they live out their days. We learn that Murray committed suicide the day before. Burns attempts to scrub away the blood, to no avail. A barbecue stands towards the rear of the pool; it has never been lit and is the source of great curiosity and fear amongst the men. In a shared dream, they see it bursting into flames, heralding their death at the hands of the returning Odysseus. Penelope, separated from the men, stands on a platform above and unseen from the pool. Each man in turn attempts to win her affections through a monologue relayed to her via a television screen. But as the day wears on, signs and premonitions of Odysseus’ return grow more ominous and they formulate a plan to work together in order that one of them may succeed in winning Penelope, thus saving the others from Odysseus’ revenge. In a climactic sequence, Quinn performs a quick-change cabaret routine to the music of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, appearing as famous historical lovers including Napoleon and Josephine, and Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara. Finally he is stabbed by Burns. Dunne and Fitz take part in the stabbing and Quinn is killed. Burns makes a final address to Penelope in which he argues for their collective redemption through love and human affection, but when the barbecue bursts into flames, the fate of the suitors is sealed.

In his Foreword to Enda Walsh Plays: Two (Nick Hern Books, 2014), Walsh writes: 'My one attempt to talk specifically about ‘something that was actually happening’ was in the play Penelope. When the crash in 2008 decimated the fantasy that Ireland had created for itself, a German theatre in Oberhausen had already approached me and four other European playwrights to each take a section of the Odyssey to adapt. I was reading a lot about Irish bankers and financiers who were either killing themselves or being publicly vilified. I decided to write a play about Penelope’s suitors as they await their collective murder. It became part-situation-comedy, part-existential-scratching – scored by Herb Alpert.'

The Druid production was directed by Mikel Murfi and designed by Sabine Dargent. It was performed by Niall Buggy, Denis Conway, Tadhg Murphy, Karl Shiels and Olga Wehrly.

The play received its London premiere at Hampstead Theatre in February 2011.

Room 303

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Enda Walsh's Room 303 is a short monologue inspired by the New Testament's Third Epistle of John and first produced by the Bush Theatre, London, as part of the Sixty-Six Books season on 13 October 2011. It was subsequently shown as an installation at the Galway International Arts Festival in 2014.

The play's action takes place in a 'cheap hotel room'. A stage direction states that 'a Man's voice is heard'. We learn that he is a travelling religious salesman who, confronted by the futility of his existence, has given up his vocation. All that’s left is this hotel room, his ageing body and a fat fly.

The Bush Theatre production was directed by Madani Younis and performed by Niall Buggy, who also performed the piece at the Galway International Arts Festival.

The Small Things

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Enda Walsh's The Small Things is a play about enforced silence that explores language and humanity’s need for words. It was first performed by Paines Plough as part of the ‘This Other England’ season at the Menier Chocolate Factory, London, on 28 January 2005.

The play is a two-hander, with two characters – known only as Man and Woman – occupying the stage, although they are separated by a deep valley. They talk about the small things – parquet floor zigzagging down corridors, the memory of your mother’s breasts, brown sauce and soggy chips. But these minutiae disguise a bigger story of brutality and unfaltering loyalty which emerges horrifically through the chit chat.

The Paines Plough production was directed by Vicky Featherstone and designed by Neil Warmington. It was performed by Valerie Lilley and Bernard Gallagher.

In his foreword to the collection Enda Walsh Plays: One (Nick Hern Books, 2011), Walsh writes: 'The Small Things was a play written about the relationship of my dead father with my still alive mother. It’s a tightly spun machine of a play that searches out silences. It has this ceaseless rhythm to it which I must have been conscious about when writing. It feels like it was written in one sitting. Of mine it’s still my favourite.'

Sucking Dublin

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Enda Walsh's Sucking Dublin is an uncompromising short play about a group of five individuals tormented by a rape in claustrophobic, drug-infested Dublin. It was first performed by the Outreach Department of the Abbey Theatre at Basin Lane Youth Reach Centre in Dublin in 1997. It also played at the Samuel Beckett Theatre in Trinity College, Dublin, from 4 November 1997.

Little Lamb, Amanda, Steve, Lep and Fat are five young Dubliners unable to escape cyclical patterns of self-destruction: drugs, obesity, violence, rape and teenage pregnancy. Little Lamb is a teen mother desperately trying to carve out a worthwhile life for herself and her child, while her sister Amanda is trying to play happy house with her drug-dealing boyfriend Steve. Tying the five together, Little Lamb's love interest and father of her child Lep is an addict dependent on Steve. His overweight sister Fat is the only remaining member of his family. When Little Lamb is raped by the brutish Steve, the group's escalating troubles come to a head. Stifled by the city and the memories it holds for her, Little Lamb is driven to abandon her child and leave the country entirely.

The Abbey Theatre production was directed by Sarah Thornton and designed by Aedin Cosgrove. The cast was Jessica Brady, Lynda Gough, Paul Griffin, Aidan Kelly, Deirdre Molloy, Esther Mulligan, Anto Nolan, Morna Regan and Anton Stafford.

The Walworth Farce

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Enda Walsh’s The Walworth Farce is a play that explores what happens when we get stuck in the stories we tell about our lives. It was first performed by Druid Theatre Company at the Town Hall Theatre, Galway, on 20 March 2006, before touring to Cork and Dublin. It was revived at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, on 3 August 2007 as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and received its London premiere at the National Theatre in September 2008.

The play is set in a council flat on the Walworth Road in South London. Fifty-year-old Dinny, exiled from his native city Cork, lives here with his two sons Blake (twenty-five) and Sean (twenty-four). Every day they perform a play which depicts, in garbled form, their last day in Ireland, including the death of Dinny's mother, followed by Dinny murdering his brother and sister-in-law. Blake plays all the female roles in a variety of wigs, while Sean plays the male roles. They also perform as younger versions of themselves, in which they bully other children and kill a dog. As they repeat the play (to an audience of nobody), it becomes apparent that this is a script that is constantly revised and modified, and features many bizarre events (such as Dinny's mother and neighbour dying in an accident involving a horse and a speedboat). Sean has some memory of the real events, and tells Blake (who has no memory of them) that the boys were in reality quiet children who planned to become astronauts and bus drivers when they grew up, and that their depiction as young sadists is their father's invention. Only Sean is permitted to leave the flat, walking down fifteen flights of stairs to go to the local Tesco supermarket for supplies. One day he accidentally brings back the wrong shopping, and the cashier, Hayley, who has developed a connection to Sean, follows him to the flat to give him his groceries. The first act ends with her entrance into the flat, as the present day and reality intrude on Dinny's recreation of an imagined past. Hayley is abruptly taken prisoner and forced to participate in the family's ritual, but her presence is enough to exacerbate the fissures that have already appeared. Hayley is determined to escape, and to take Sean with her.

Incorporating many of the staple elements of farce, including the doubling up of roles, rapid costume changes and a complex plot, the play explores the psychological impact of exile and dependency on a mythologised version of the past – themes that recur frequently in Walsh's work. In his Foreword to Enda Walsh Plays: Two (Nick Hern Books, 2014), Walsh writes that the play is about the 'feeling of being trapped and churned by your environment... [it] formed itself as a high-octane farce, which was a real surprise as we have no history of that style of performance back in Ireland. I had that image of farce seeping out of the West End and tunnelling under the Thames and finding its way to a tower block – and into the unfortunate lives of these Irishmen who really should be building Britain'.

The original Druid production was directed by Mikel Murfi and designed by Sabine Dargent, with Denis Conway as Dinny, Aaron Monaghan as Sean, Garrett Lombard as Blake and Syan Blake as Hayley.

The production at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh featured Denis Conway as Dinny, Tadhg Murphy as Sean, Garrett Lombard as Blake and Natalie Best as Hayley, and received a Fringe First Award. It was performed by the same cast at the National Theatre, with the exception of Mercy Ojelade, who played Hayley.

Between 2006 and 2010 the play toured extensively in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Picture of Enda Walsh

© Sarah Weal

Enda Walsh was born in Dublin and now lives in London. His breakthrough play Disco Pigs, produced by Irish theatre company Corcadorca in 1996, played at the Traverse Theatre as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1997 and won the Stewart Parker and George Devine Awards. Enda Walsh also wrote the book for the hit musical Once, based on the film by John Carney, which premiered at the New York Theatre Workshop in 2011 and transferred to Broadway in 2012. The musical won numerous Tony Awards, including Best Book for Walsh, and received its London West End debut in 2013.

His other plays include a radical adaptation of A Christmas Carol (Corcadorca, 1994); The Ginger Ale Boy (Corcadorca, 1995); Sucking Dublin (Abbey Theatre, Dublin, 1997); misterman (Granary Theatre, Cork, 1999); bedbound (Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, 2001); The Small Things (Paines Plough at the Menier Chocolate Factory, 2005); Chatroom (NT Connections, 2005); The Walworth Farce (Druid Theatre, Galway, 2006, then Traverse Theatre, 2007; winner of Edinburgh Fringe First Award 2007); The New Electric Ballroom (Kammerspiele, Munich, 2005, then Druid Theatre, Galway and Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, 2008; winner of Theater Heute’s Best Foreign Play, 2005, Edinburgh Fringe First Award, 2008 and Best New Play, Irish Times Theatre Awards, 2008); Delirium, an adaptation of Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov (for Theatre O, Abbey Theatre and Barbican, 2008); Penelope (Traverse Theatre, 2010, then Hampstead Theatre, 2011; winner of Edinburgh Fringe First Award, 2010); a revised version of Misterman (Galway Arts Festival, St Ann’s Warehouse, New York, 2011 and National Theatre, 2012); Ballyturk (Galway Arts Festival/Landmark Productions and National Theatre, 2014) and an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Twits (Royal Court, 2014).

His plays for radio include Four Big Days in the Life of Dessie Banks for RTÉ, which won the IPA Radio Drama Award, and The Monotonous Life of Little Miss P for the BBC, which was commended at the Grand Prix Berlin. His 2008 biopic, Hunger, told the story of the final days of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands and won awards including the Caméra d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and the Heartbeat Award at the Dinard International Film Festival. It was nominated for seven BIFAs (including Best Screenplay), six British Film and Television Awards (including Best Screenplay and Best Independent Film) and BAFTA’s Outstanding British Film Award 2009.