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A Crucial Week in the Life of a Grocer’s Assistant


A Crucial Week in the Life of a Grocer's Assistant | Corn Mill Theatre Group




John Joe Moran is 29; the son of the town gravedigger and a washerwoman, and the servant to a craw-thumping grocer who pays him 19 shillin’s a week whilst urging him not to stray from the straight and narrow. John Joe has a girl and dreams of escape just like his brother, but his mother and her close ally the Parish Priest keep John Joe firmly in chains.


Outside a small town in Ireland. Spring 1958.

Running Time

2Hr 30 Minutes - 15 minute interval after scene seven.


Tom Murphy was born in Tuam, Co. Galway, and he had a deep attachment to the place of his birth. At the age of 24, he wrote his first play, On the Outside, in collaboration with his great friend Noel O'Donoghue. The following year, he completed his first full-length play, which under the original title, The Iron Men, won a number of Irish national playwriting awards. In 1961 it was produced as A Whistle in the Dark at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East, London, one of the most momentous premieres in British Theatre in the 1960s. This production later transferred to the West End. His next plays were produced at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, and included FamineA Crucial Week in the Life of a Grocer's Assistant and The Morning After Optimism. Two of his most controversial and highly regarded plays were to follow in the late 70s and early 80s, The Sanctuary Lamp and The Gigli Concert. In 1984, he formed an association with Druid Theatre Company that began with the productions of Famine and On the Outside. These were a prelude to the landmark Druid productions of the mid 80s, Conversations on a HomecomingBailegangaire and, in a co-production with the Abbey Theatre, A Whistle in the Dark. These productions were widely acclaimed both at home and internationally. Murphy's plays subsequently premiered at The Abbey Theatre, The Edinburgh International Festival and The Royal Court, London. His plays have been produced throughout the world including the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, Austria, Hungary and Portugal. He also directed his own work including celebrated productions of BailegangaireAlice Trilogy and The Sanctuary Lamp. In 2012, Druid Theatre Company presented a major celebration of Murphy's work, DruidMurphy, which consisted of Conversations on a HomecomingA Whistle in the Dark and Famine and toured across Ireland, to the USA and UK. Tom Murphy was a member of Aosdána and a patron of Irish Theatre Institute.