Philadelphia, Here I Come!


Writers: Brian Friel


Show Information

Number of Acts
First Produced
Comedy, Tragedy
Period, Unit/Single Set
Time & Place
The fictional town of Ballybeg, County Donegal, Ireland, 1960s
Cast Size
Ideal for
College/University, Regional Theatre, Star Vehicle Male, Mostly Male Cast
Casting Notes
Mostly male cast
Includes young adult, mature adult, adult characters


Gar O'Donnell lives with his father (whom he nicknames S.B.) in 1960s Donegal. Gar is preparing to emigrate to Philadelphia to live with his aunt, Lizzy Sweeney. A string of visitors on the eve of his departure seem to confirm that there are few opportunities for a young man in Donegal at this time and emigrating therefore seems like an advantageous move, At first Gar seems delighted to be leaving, excitedly discussing his plans with the housekeeper Madge. However, when his alter ego, Private Gar, appears (who can only be seen by the audience), his internal thoughts begin to tumble out. The tension between Gar’s Irish upbringing and his desire for a new life starts to become clear. Gar has had a strained relationship with his father for many years and neither of them have discussed Gar’s imminent departure with each other. Gar wishes that S.B. would show some emotion or articulate his feelings towards him, but it never happens. In a series of flashbacks, we see Gar’s recent breakup with his girlfriend and his aunt’s offer of work, both of which encourage Gar to leave his hometown and country. However, by the end of the play, Gar’s inner dialogue remains torn between the familiar and the prospect of a new life, and we are unsure whether Gar leaves after all.

Lead Characters

Philadelphia, Here I Come! guide sections