ENG32030 Theatre of Martin McDonagh

Academic Year 2023/2024

The module’s focus is on the plays and the films of this incredibly important, accomplished, and innovate writer, Martin McDonagh. It will consider the plays and films in great detail as well as analyse the critical responses and contextualizations of the work. It will consider how appropriate it is to place the work within an Irish tradition and/or whether it is more important to situate the work in a broader world-wide context.

Evaluations of Martin McDonagh’s work to date have relied substantially on the complex relationship between theatre space, language, character, violence and action, and more significantly, on the connections between the written and performed texts and the Irish contexts within which the majority of the plays and films are set. All the plays have been brushed by a range of critical analyses that relies on everything from Marxism to post-colonial theory, from feminist and gender evaluations to an interrogation of the postmodern imperatives and postdramatic inclinations in the work.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

Learning Outcomes. By the end of the module students

• Will be able to critically evaluate and contextualize the work of Martin McDonagh

• Will have interrogated the critical frameworks through which critics and commentators consider the plays

• Will understand issues surrounding verisimilitude, mimetic realism, and context, in performative, political and socio-economic terms

• Will have considered how the conventions of a notional naturalism/realism inform but also limit the texts in unusual ways,

• Will have reflected on issues of Irishnesss and representations.

• Will have considered the relationship between text and performance

Indicative Module Content:

Seminars- Provisional Outline

17/09 Wk 1- Introduction: The Beauty Queen of Leenane

24/09 Wk 2- The Cripple of Inishmaan

01/10 Wk 3- The Lonesome West and A Skull in Connemara

08/10- Wk 4 The Banshees of Inisheerin

15/10 Wk 5 The Lieutenant of Inishmore

22/10 Wk 6- A Behanding in Spokane and Hangmen

29/10 Reading Week

05/11 Wk 7- Six Shooter & Seven Psychopaths

12/11 Wk 8- 3 Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri and (perhaps) A Very, Very, Very Dark Matter

19/11 Wk 9- The Pillowman

26/11 Wk 10- In Bruges

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Autonomous Student Learning






Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
It is expected that students will have read the play in advance of class and are ready to discuss the work in a seminar. Each week a critical reading will be assigned. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Theatre of Martin McDonagh (DRAM30250)

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Continuous Assessment: Reading in Advance of Class.
Bullet point submitted prior to seminar.
Contribution to discussion.
Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Essay: Final essay Week 12 n/a Graded No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback on final essay.


McDonagh, Martin The Beauty Queen of Leenane, A Skull in Connemara, and The Lonesome West in Plays 1 (London: Methuen, 1999).
------ The Cripple of Inishmaan, (London: Methuen, 1997)
------ The Lieutenant of Inishmore (London: Methuen, 2001)
------ The Pillowman (London: Faber and Faber, 2003)
------ A Behanding in Spokane (New York, New Dramatists Series, 2011 )
------ Hangmen (London: Faber and Faber, 2013)
------- A Very, Very, Very, Dark Matter (London: Faber ,2018)

In Bruges, (2008)
Six Shooter (2006)
Seven Psychopaths (2012)
3 Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri (2017)
The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)

Secondary Reading


Chambers, Lilian and Eamonn Jordan, eds., The Theatre of Martin McDonagh: A World of Savage Stories, (Carysfort Press, Dublin, 2006)

Rankin Russell, Richard, Martin McDonagh: A Casebook (London: Routledge, 2007)

Jordan, Eamonn, From Leenane to LA: The Theatre and Cinema of Martin McDonagh (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2014)

Lonergan, Patrick, The Theatre and Films of Martin McDonagh (Critical Companions) (Methuen: London 2012)


Fitzpatrick, Lisa, “Language Games: The Pillowman, A Skull in Connemara, and Martin McDonagh’s Hiberno-English” in The Theatre of Martin McDonagh: A World of Savage Stories, edited by Lilian Chambers and Eamonn Jordan (Carysfort Press, Dublin, 2006), (141 154)
Grene, Nicholas “Black Pastoral: 1990s Images of Ireland,” Litteraria Pragensia 20.10. 23 October 2004. http://komparatistika.ff.cuni.cz/litteraria/no20-10/grene.htm
Grene, Nicholas, “Ireland in Two Minds: Martin McDonagh and Conor McPherson”, The Yearbook of English Studies 35:1, January 2005, (298-311)
Hynes, Garry in an interview with Cathy Leeney, Theatre Talk: Voices of Irish Theatre Practitioners, edited by Lilian Chambers et al, (Dublin: Carysfort Press, 2001)
Lahr, John, “Blood Simple” New Yorker, 13 March 2006, p.92.
Luckhurst, Mary, “Martin McDonagh’s Lieutenant of Inishmore: Selling (-Out) to the English”, Contemporary Theatre Review, 14:4, 2004, (34-41), p. 35.
Merriman, Victor, “Heartsickness and Hopes Deferred” in Twentieth Century Irish Drama, ed. Shaun Richards (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), (255-56).
Merriman, Victor, “Theatre of Tiger Trash”, Irish University Review, 29.2, (305-17).
Murray, Christopher “The Cripple of Inishmaan Meets Lady Gregory” in The Theatre of Martin McDonagh: A World of Savage Stories, edited by Lilian Chambers and Eamonn Jordan (Carysfort Press, Dublin, 2006), 79-95.
O’Toole, Fintan”A Mind in Connemara: The Savage World of Martin McDonagh”, New Yorker 6 March 2006, p.44.
Richards, Shaun ‘‘’The Outpouring of a Morbid, Unhealthy Mind’: The Critical Condition of Synge and McDonagh”, Irish University Review, 33 (2003), (201-14)
Scolnicov, Hanna Woman’s Theatrical Space (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994)
Waters, John “The Irish Mummy: The Plays and Purpose of Martin McDonagh” in Dermot Bolger, ed. Druids, Dudes and Beauty Queens: The Changing Face of Irish Theatre (Dublin: New Island, 2001).

Lots of readings are available on Bright Space
Name Role
Dr Ashley Taggart Lecturer / Co-Lecturer