The Hostage (play)

The Hostage (Play)

The Hostage (play)

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The Hostage is a loose 1958 English version, with songs, adapted in a much longer text from a one-act Irish language Gaelic play An Giall, by its author, Brendan Behan.


The Hostage depicts the events leading up to the planned execution of an 18 year old IRA member in a Belfast jail, accused of killing an Ulster policeman. Like the protagonist of The Quare Fellow, the audience never sees him. The action of the play is set in a very odd house of ill-repute on Nelson Street, Dublin, owned by a former IRA commandant. The hostage of the title is Leslie Williams, a young and innocent Cockney British soldier taken at the border with Northern Ireland and held in the brothel, brought among the vibrant but desperately unorthodox combination of prostitutes, revolutionaries and general low characters inhabiting the place.

During the course of the play, a love story develops between Leslie and Teresa (a young girl, resident of the house). Both are orphans living foreign to the city they find themselves in, Teresa being from Ballymahon, Co. Longford. During this Teresa promises never to forget him.

The play ends with news of the hanging in Belfast and armed GardaĆ­ raid the brothel. Leslie is killed in the ensuing gunfight, by police bullets. In the finale his corpse rises and sings:
:The bells of hell
:Go ting-a-ling-a-ling
:For you but not for me.
:Oh death, where is thy sting-a-ling-a-ling
:Or grave thy victory?


The play has a large cast of over 13 characters with...
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