By the Bog of Cats

By the Bog of Cats Study Guide

By the Bog of Cats is a 1998 play written by Irish playwright Marina Carr. Inspired by the myth of Medea, the play centers around Hester Swane, a heavy-drinking, low-class woman whose lover has left her for another woman. Now, she must face the reality that she has been displaced from her childhood home and separated from all that she holds most dear.

Upon its premiere, the play received a mixed response. Its dark and disturbing themes were embraced by some and rejected by others. The play mixes elements of contemporary Irish life, myth, and supernatural imagery. It is set in a bog in the Irish Midlands that is populated by grisly ghosts of the past and sparring mortals, all desperate to lay claim to the bog.

The play was revived in 2014 in the West End starring Hollywood actress Holly Hunter as Hester Swane. Hunter had appeared in a production of the play in 2001 at San Jose Rep in a completely different production that Carr also worked on. Reviews were mixed, with many suggesting that Hunter's accent left much to be desired. In an interview about the revival for The Guardian, Carr said, "It was the Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh who said that tragedy is just underdeveloped comedy, and I think he's got a big point."