Reading Charles Spencer’s recent Daily Telegraph review of “The Playboy of the Western World” – now running at the Old Vic in London – it is hard not to think of the Irish Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, and his gormless blustering. Spencer tells us that the action of the play turns on the character of Christy Mahon, who turns up at a rural pub in the wilds of Co. Mayo and announces that he is on the run after murdering his bullying father. Instead of condemning his action the locals fete him as a hero. Is this an image of Kenny laying into the Catholic Church and the Vatican, as the cheerleaders around him – and his left-liberal coalition partners in Government – coax him on.
“Christy is a most unlikely murderer,” Spencer continues, “a point marvellously made in Robert Sheehan’s gormless, gangling performance, but the acclaim of his new companions puts an unfamiliar swagger in his stride, especially when the spirited daughter of the house, Pegeen Mike, takes a shine to him.” For many Enda was a kind of hero when he blusteringly, and with gross exaggeration of his case, set about putting the Vatican in its place on behalf of the Irish people last July.
But the shine on Mr. Kenny’s performances may be beginning to become a bit scuffed as the reaction to his most recent hostile action against the Vatican – the barely concealed insult of closing the Irish Embassy to the Holy See – begins to generate a growing resentment. Even his own back-benchers are now questioning his judgement. One wonders if the dramatic denouement of the Playboy might not also be in store for Mr. Kenny. As Spencer notes of the fate in store for Christy Mahon: “Suddenly this perennial loser in life’s lottery discovers hope and confidence for the first time. Then, in one of the great comic coups of modern theatre, his father turns up with a bloody bandage round his head, and the play heads off in a startling new direction.” Mr. Kenny’s hopes and unwarranted popularity of recent months may meet a similar humiliating fate.