The Fort Worth stage meets world literature this weekend as Pantagleize Theatre Company offers a very rare production of Irish playwright Sean O’Casey’s 1949 ”Cock A Doodle Dandy.” It’s an elegantly crude fairy tale of sexual repression and frisky fowl that stars – to quote Brad Pitt in “Fight Club” – “a nice big cock.” O’Casey has been largely forgotten except by scholars and theater cultists, which is a shame. He was a nuanced political thinker with a poet’s ear for shimmering Irish vernacular. He could, as someone once said, find the pretty pony hidden beneath the big pile of horseshit and give both their due.
O’Casey’s plays attracted two of the 20th century’s greatest filmmakers early in their careers. Alfred Hitchcock adapted ”Juno and the Paycock” (1930) to become his second “talkie” and something of an experiment for the entire fledgling British studio system. John Ford, Irish American to the bone, shot O’Casey’s ”The Plough and the Stars” in 1936. It dramatized the 1916 Easter Uprising and tried to explain to U.S. audiences the divided soul of Ireland – fighting alongside England in WWI while preparing underground to fight its oppression at home.
Being typically Irish, O’Casey was endlessly quotable. My favorites are “I think we ought to have as great a regard for religion as we can, so as to keep it out of as many things as possible” and “Money does not make you happy but it quiets the nerves.”