In the Shadow of the Glen


Writers: John Millington Synge


Show Information

Number of Acts
First Produced
Drama, Dark Comedy
Period, Simple/No Set, Unit/Single Set
Time & Place
An isolated cottage, Glen Malure, County Wicklow, Ireland, Nighttime, 1900s, 1890s
Cast Size
Ideal for
College/University, Community Theatre, Ensemble Cast, Professional Theatre, Regional Theatre, Small Cast
Casting Notes
Mostly male cast
Includes adult, mature adult, elderly, young adult characters


It is truly a dark and stormy night in County Wicklow when a Tramp, seeking shelter from the wind and rain, knocks on the door of the loneliest cottage in Glen Malure, and finds himself at an impromptu wake. Dan Burke, aged and cranky, has died suddenly, but not before laying a curse on his younger wife, Nora, that no one is to touch his body or prepare him for laying out except his sister, who lives an inconvenient distance away. As Nora entertains the Tramp with her husband’s whiskey and pipe, and the two keep company and share stories about, and against, the dark night and fear of the unknown, the Tramp comes to realize that not all was well in this isolated cottage.… especially when, during Nora’s brief absence, Dan reveals to the startled Tramp that he is not dead at all, but waiting to catch his friendly wife misbehaving with a man. Enter Micheal Dara, a young and confident neighboring herd, with an eye to marrying the young widow and acquiring her property, and Dan’s suspicions seem confirmed. But Nora’s unhappy ending may be her ticket to freedom. John Millington Synge’s classic In the Shadow of the Glen is a dark, poetic comedy, a meditation on time, loneliness, and personal freedom.

Lead Characters

In the Shadow of the Glen guide sections