The Beauty Queen of Leenane

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The Beauty Queen of Leenane
The Beauty Queen of Leenane.jpg
Written by Martin McDonagh
Characters Mag Folan
Maureen Folan
Ray Dooley
Pato Dooley
Date premiered 1996
Place premiered Galway, Ireland
Original language English
Subject a plain and lonely woman in her forties with her first and possibly final chance at love; and her manipulative mother who sets about to derail it
Genre Drama
Setting Leenane, a village in Connemara, County Galway

The Beauty Queen of Leenane is a 1996 black comedy by Irish playwright Martin McDonagh which was premiered by the Druid Theatre Company in Galway, Ireland. It also enjoyed successful runs at London's West End, Broadway and Off-Broadway.

It was nominated for an Olivier Award as Best Play for the London production, and the 1998 Broadway production was nominated for six Tony Awards, winning four, for Best Leading Actress in a Play, Best Featured Actor in a Play, Best Featured Actress in a Play and Best Direction of a Play.


Original production[edit]

The play received its world premiere at the Town Hall Theatre, Galway where it opened on 1 February 1996. It then toured Ireland, stopping off in Longford, Kilkenny and Limerick. It transferred to London's West End, where it opened at the Royal Court Theatre on 29 February 1996. It then returned to Ireland to embark on an extensive national tour, playing in Galway, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Fermanagh, Donegal and Derry amongst others. The play returned to London where it was revived at the Duke of York's Theatre on 29 November 1996 for several months.

The play re-appeared as part of the Leenane Trilogy (which includes two other plays by Martin McDonagh) in 1997 where it played as part of another Irish and UK Tour (which included stopped off at the Olympia Theatre, Dublin and the Royal Court Theatre in London again).

In 1998, the play received its American premiere, opening off-Broadway on 11 February. It promptly transferred to the Walter Kerr Theater on Broadway where it opened on 14 April 1998. It received six Tony Award nominations, winning four. The play was produced in Australia in 1998 and again in 1999, and returned to Ireland in 2000 as part of a final national tour.

2010 revival[edit]

The play was revived in 2010 at the Young Vic Theatre in the West End, starring Irish actress Rosaleen Linehan. The production transferred to Dublin's Gaiety Theatre where Linehan reprised her role opposite Derbhle Crotty. It then returned to the Young Vic for another run, closing in September 2011.

Plot synopsis[edit]

The play is a blend of black comedy, melodrama, horror and bleak tragedy. The story is set in the Irish village of Leenane, Connemara in the early 1990s. It takes place entirely in a shabby, poorly lit kitchen, resulting in a claustrophobic sense of entrapment.

The play centres on the life of Maureen Folan, a 40-year-old spinster who takes care of her selfish and manipulative 70-year-old mother Mag. Maureen's sisters have escaped into marriage and family life, but Maureen, with a history of mental illness, is trapped in a seriously dysfunctional relationship with her mother.

The Folan cottage is visited by Pato Dooley and his younger brother Ray. Pato is a middle-aged construction worker fed up with having to live and work in England, disappointed by the limitations and loneliness of his life. The day-to-day sameness is tedious also for Ray, a non-threatening "bad boy".

The glimmer of a last-chance romance between Maureen and Pato sparks up in the first act, and continues in the second one with a notable monologue of Pato. The plot, full of deceptions, secrets and betrayals interspersed with turnabouts, keeps surprising the audience. Hopes are raised only to be dashed.

Awards and nominations[edit]

1996 Olivier Awards
  • BBC Award for Play of the Year (Nomination)[1]
1998 Tony Awards
1998 Drama Desk Awards
  • Outstanding Play (WINNER)
  • Outstanding Actress in a Play – Marie Mullen (Nomination)
Other awards


  1. ^ "Olivier Awards, 1997", accessed 30 July 2011
  2. ^ "64th Annual Drama League Awards". Retrieved 10 May 2006. 
  3. ^ "1998 Lucille Lortel Awards". Retrieved 10 May 2006. 
  4. ^ "1998 Outer Critics Circle Awards". Retrieved 10 May 2006. 

Further reading[edit]

  • McDonagh, Martin (1998). Beauty Queen of Leenane & Other Plays. New York: Vintage Books. p. 259p. ISBN 0-375-70487-6. 

External links[edit]