Christopher Fitz-Simon has served as literary manager and artistic director of the Abbey and Peacock Theatres. This year, the former marks its 100th year, and Fitz-Simon does a fine job of tracing the Abbey's centrality in Irish cultural life in "The Abbey Theatre: Ireland's National Theatre: The First 100 Years." Yet for all of Fitz-Simon's knowledge, it is the nearly 200 photos and other illustrations which best capture the richness and vitality for which Dublin's drama center has been known since 1904. From early stagings of J.M. Synge's "The Playboy of the Western World" and Sean O'Casey's "The Plough and the Stars" (which provoked rioting in the streets) to later acclaimed works by Frank McGuinness and Brian Friel, the contemporary history of Irish dramatic literature can be understood through the Abbey. This makes Fitz-Simon's book not only entertaining, but important. ($27.50 / 208 pages / Thames and Hudson)
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