This study examines the historical relationship between tragicomedy in the modernist theatre and the performative culture of Western consumer societies. While discussing a wide range of playwrights, it focusses specifically on the work of Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter and Sam Shepard. Their plays, it is argued, illuminate the forms of pleasure, fear, performance and corruption which dominate our daily lives. Tragicomedy is seen as unique becuae of the existential playfulness and confusion of its protagonists, and because of its muted vision of apocalypse in the nuclear age.
Table of ContentsAcknowledgements - Modernism and Tragicomedy - Play and Performative Culture - The Resistance of Commodities - Samuel Beckett: Imprisoned Persona and Irish Amnesia - Anglo-Tragic: Pinter and the English Tradition - Pinter: The Game of the Shared Experience - Shepard I: Rise of Myth/Fall of Community - Shepard II: The Shock of the Normal - Shepard III: Re-enacting the Myth of Origin - Notes - Bibliography