The funeral cortège in Hades passes "the
Queen's theatre" at 209 Great Brunswick (now
Pearse) Street, one of several major theaters mentioned in Ulysses,
along with the Theatre
Royal and the Gaiety
Theatre. Of these three purveyors of popular
entertainment the Queen's Theatre set its sights lowest,
though for a time in the 1950s and 60s it housed the more
prestigious Abbey Theatre. It closed its doors in 1969.
The Queen's Royal Theatre, commonly called the Queen's,
opened in 1844. In the following decades it often staged Irish
melodramas, written by Dion Boucicault and others. In Hades
Bloom thinks of attending a musical version of
Boucicault's Colleen Bawn: "Or the Lily of
Killarney? Elster Grimes Opera company." The theater
also produced countless flimsy plays on Irish figures like St. Patrick, Wolfe Tone,
and Robert Emmet. In his foreword to Joseph O'Brien's Dear,
Dirty Dublin (1982), Hugh Kenner calls the "endless
minor plays on Irish historical themes" the equivalent of
westerns in 20th century America (ix).
By the end of the 19th century the theater was staging
Victorian precursors of what came to be known as "variety
shows," with assorted acts predominantly musical and comical.
The quality of some of these can be gauged by the Cyclops
narrator's description of the Citizen "shouting like a
stuck pig, as good as any bloody play in the Queen's royal
theatre." As variety theater supplanted music-hall shows in the
mid-20th century, the Queen's led the way with acts like the
Happy Gang, a group of comedians and musicians.
From 1951 to 1966 the Abbey Theatre Company took over the
building after its own theater burned down. But as Philip B.
Ryan observes in his The Lost Theatres of Dublin
(1998), these fifteen years marked a very low ebb in the
ambitions of Ireland's famous art theater. By the end of the
Abbey's uninspiring run, variety shows had largely been killed
off by television, and the Queen's lasted for only a few more
years. In 1975 it was demolished to make way for a modern
office building, just as the Theatre Royal had been in the