Portia Coughlan – Marina Carr


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Haunted by the death, fifteen years previously, of her twin brother who keeps calling to her, Portia Coughlan has become, in turn, a ghostly figure. She lives with her husband, whom she can’t love, and her three children, whom she can’t trust herself to care for.

The drama of Portia’s sexually charged relationships and her fierce exertion to sustain her independence grows and grows in Marina Carr’s richly textured dialogue, beautiful lyric soarings and visionary flights.

Marina Carr’s Portia Coughlan was commissioned by the National Maternity Hospital, Dublin and was first produced in the Peacock Theatre, Dublin, on 27 March 1996. The play was revived at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, in February 2022.

‘One of three plays described as Carr’s Midlands trilogy (including The Mai and By the Bog of Cats) Portia Coughlan’s preoccupation with fate, self-destructive desire and the spectral presence of the dead takes it into the realm of the mythic. Yet, though not written as a slice of realism, it touches on subjects that are still highly disturbing 26 years after its premiere: from sexual secrets passed on through generations, to incest and in-breeding; from misogyny to vicious social prejudice.’ — The Guardian

‘Carr’s harrowing play has the scale and anguish of myth, and the immediacy of a contemporary anecdote.

Robert Butler, The Independent on Sunday

Winner of the Susan Smith Blackburn Award

Year Published: 1998
Details: 80pp
ISBN PBK: 978 1 85235 226 4

Cover: Photograph of Denise Gough by Sam Irons

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