Renowned for his prolific contributions to theatre, cinema, and literature, Martin McDonagh, the esteemed playwright, screenwriter, film director, and producer, has garnered illustrious accolades over the years, culminating in his recent Oscar nominations for the film The Banshees of Inisherin (2021). McDonagh’s emergence as a prominent figure in contemporary Irish drama dates to the 1990s, an important period especially with regard to the renewed recognition of Irish theatre. McDonagh’s artistic oeuvre has resonated deeply with global audiences, eliciting both fervent admiration and vehement criticism, particularly in academic and critical circles.

Casting him as “the Tarantino of theatre,” critics and scholars remain deeply divided in their appraisal of McDonagh’s artistic sensibilities. Detractors cite disconcerting elements within his works, such as dark humor and gratuitous portrayals of violence, which they contend undermine a clear moral framework. Furthermore, concerns are raised regarding the potential misperception of McDonagh’s portrayal of Ireland, cautioning against misconstruing his artistic interpretation as an authentic reflection of the nation’s essence. This ambivalence surrounding his works and persona continues to fuel intense debates, underscoring the complex and multifaceted reception of his artistic contributions on a global scale.

This course seeks to explore his plays of the Connemara Trilogy (The Beauty Queen of Leenane (1996), A Skull in Connemara (1997), The Lonesome West (1997)), The Pillowman (2003) and A Very Very Very Dark Matter (2018). We close our inquiry into McDonagh’s theatrical corpus with a closer look at the theatricality of his most recent film, The Banshees of Inisherin (2021).