— ‘Ya’ll be sorry for this, Hester Swane.’
— ‘We all will.’
By the Bog of Cats was first presented by the Abbey Theatre in the Dublin Theatre Festival (1998) and won the Irish Times/ESB award for ‘Best New Play’ of that year.
The scorn of Hester Swane, a woman discarded — ‘flung on the ashpit and you still alive’ — threatens a whole community as she awaits her mother’s return to the Bog of Cats: ‘God’s punishin’ me but I won’t take his blows lyin’ down.’
Forgiveness, vengeance and desperate forces figure in the tangled history embodied in Hester’s powerful drama as it advances through heartbreak and — occasionally — hilarity towards the play’s terrifying, inevitable end.
I am not aware of another woman who writes about tragedy with such grandeur. She goes to a deep place that has not just to do with society now but that touches an inner tragedy of existence.
— Joyce McMillen, New York Times