Through the eyes of two friends, one English and the other Irish, this play explores the misunderstandings and misconceptions that have characterized relations between England and Ireland for centuries.
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When Thomas Broadbent, an Englishman, visits Ireland for the first time, he is accompanied by his friend Larry Doyle, an Irishman who is returning to his homeland after being away for many years. Through the two men's differing responses to the country and also the Irish people's reactions to their two visitors, Shaw is able to explore the misunderstandings and misconceptions that have characterised relations between England and Ireland for centuries.
According to Shaw, 'John Bull's Other Island' was written in 1904 at the request of W.B.Yeats 'as a patriotic contribution to the repertory of the Irish Literary Theatre', but when Mr Yeats read the script he rejected it, claiming that it was beyond the resources of the Abbey Theatre. In fact, for Yeats, a play which was 'uncongenial to the whole spirit of the neo-Gaelic movement' must have made uncomfortable reading, and for us today, in the light of all that has happened in the intervening years, the issues raised by the play have lost none of their urgency.
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