The following pages titled ‘Political Melodramas’, ‘Literary Revival’, and ‘Musicals’ are the least conceptually ambitious on this site. They aim to provide a basic historical and literary background for the plays discussed later on. They also offer a vertical route for exploring other pages. For instance, ‘Literary Revival’ leads to analyses of historical memory, national identity, and audience reception in Cathleen Ni Houlihan and The Plough and the Stars.
Genres suggest underlying political, social, and cultural concerns unite their representative plays as well as similarities in treatment. Indeed, late nineteenth and early twentieth century Irish political melodramas are so cohesive individual plays rarely receive detailed analysis. Very little distinguishes them. An equation to produce sentimentality, they rely on stock characters, familiar scenarios, impressive sets, music, and overacting. Literary Revival dramas targeted a more highbrow audience. Stripping bare the stage production and emphasizing language and characterization over dramatic gestures and plot, these works sought to replicate reality. Contemporary American musicals return in many ways to a melodramatic form. Recognizable characters, heightened emotions, a driving plot, straightforward language, and a priority placed on spectacle link these two genres.