The Theater: Recitation in Manhattan

I Knock at the Door proves a thoroughly engaging reading version of the first volume of Sean O'Casey's full-flavored autobiography. In an arrangement by Paul Shyre, six people seated in front of lecterns recount a late Victorian Dublin childhood that ends when a twelve-year-old boy has "learned poetry and . . . kissed a girl." The boy was not just any Dublin child—beyond the gifted writer he would some day be, he was threatened with blindness; and in a shabby and fiercely Protestant home was watching his father die.

The boy's already hard-beset mother was caught between the doctor's strict orders that...

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