A Whistle in the Dark

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A Whistle in the Dark is a play by Tom Murphy that premiered in 1961 at the Theatre Royal Stratford East London, having been rejected by the Abbey Theatre, Dublin.[1] It then went on to be a West End hit. Murphy was twenty-five years old at the time.[2][3] It tells the story in three acts of the climactic confrontation between Michael, the oldest of the Carney sons, and his father and brothers, a brawling, hard-drinking, criminal gang of Irish immigrants living and working in Coventry. A powerful portrayal of tribal violence and the devastation it brings in its wake in spite of attempts to stand against it, it remains Murphy's best known and most performed play. John Lahr of The Village Voice saw its influence in Harold Pinter's The Homecoming.[4] Other plays showing its influence are Gary Mitchell's In A Little World Of Our Own and Rod Wooden's Your Home In The West.

Canadian productions[edit]

In 2005, The Company Theatre in Toronto chose the play for its launch at the Berkeley Street Theatre. The production was helmed by Irish director Jason Byrne and starred Joseph Ziegler, Jonathan Goad, Allan Hawco, Philip Riccio and Sarah Dodd.

It was named “Best of 2005” in Canadian newspapers including the Globe and Mail, National Post, Now Magazine, and eye weekly. National Post called it a “masterpiece production of a masterpiece play”.

It also received two nominations for Dora Mavor Moore awards, specifically Outstanding Production and Outstanding Lead Performance Male for Joseph Ziegler.

In 2007, the Company Theatre remounted A Whistle in the Dark with the same director and most of the same cast. It played at LSPU Hall in St. John's, Newfoundland in March and at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto in April of that year.

Radio adaptation[edit]

BBC Radio 3 gave the first radio broadcast on 20 December 2009, directed by Roland Jaquarello.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "A Whistle in the Dark". The Stage, What's On Reviews, 7 March 2006. Retrieved 2009-12-30. 
  2. ^ "Tom Murphy's belated Fringe debut". The British Theatre Guide, 2005. Retrieved 2009-12-30. 
  3. ^ "A Whistle in the Dark". The Tricycle Theatre. Archived from the original on 16 January 2010. Retrieved 2009-12-30. 
  4. ^ "Tom Murphy's Éire force". The Village Voice, 22 January 2002. Retrieved 2009-12-30. 
  5. ^ "Drama on 3, A Whistle in the Dark". BBC Radio 3 website. Retrieved 2009-12-30.