“An extraordinary deposition”: Enda Walsh’s Medicine

Ondřej Pilný



The article discusses Medicine (2021), the latest play by Irish dramatist Enda Walsh, both as a continuation of his oeuvre and a rare moment in which the playwright has decided to engage with a topical issue. It examines Walsh’s depiction of the needless institutionalisation of those suffering from mental illness in Ireland, including its legacy and contemporary resonance, and outlines how Medicine is illustrative of the central role of the grotesque in the playwright’s work and the effects that it generates. The essay goes on to discuss the play’s interpellation of the audience, and ultimately the author’s metatheatrical probing of the role that theatre might have in regard to such an issue. Finally, it argues that the efficacy of the interpellation is diffused by the affective ambiguity of the play, allowing for the curative powers of this theatrical ‘medicine’ to be posited in terms of potential rather than actual effect, in tune with Jacques Rancière’s notion of the emancipation of the spectator but against Liz Tomlin’s subtle plea for the return of a more explicit political slant in theatre.


Enda Walsh, grotesque, confinement, spectatorship, affect, interpellation.




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