Death and Resurrection of Mr Roche

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A: Thomas Kilroy Pf: 1968, Dublin Pb: 1969 G: Com. in 2 acts S: Kelly's flat in Dublin, 1960s C: 6mAfter a drinking session in a Dublin pub, six men repair to Kelly's flat to continue drinking and chatting. Only one of them is married: Seamus, a teacher, who after only two years of marriage is already weary of its ‘sameness’. Their host Kelly is a 36-year-old civil servant, missing his home in the country where he grew up, but now resigned to being ‘the success of my family’. The last to arrive is Mr Roche, an older man whose homosexual proclivities are a source of amusement to the others. For a joke, they lock him in the bathroom with Kevin, a student. Roche is unamused by the prank since he is claustrophobic, and when he complains, homophobic Kelly picks a quarrel with Roche. The men now force Roche into a basement recess, the ‘holy hole’, and leave him there for a few minutes. When they go to fetch him, Doc, a medical student, examines his inert body and pronounces him dead. Kelly persuades Doc and Kevin to take the body out and leave it on a bench. While they are away, Kelly confesses to his friend Seamus that he once had a brief homosexual affair with Mr Roche. Early the next morning, Doc, Kevin, and Roche reappear: the rain had revived Roche, just as the two students were about to abandon him in the park. Kelly is now afraid that Roche may blackmail him, but Roche claims to have forgotten everything.

A: Thomas Kilroy Pf: 1968, Dublin Pb: 1969 G: Com. in 2 acts S: Kelly's flat in Dublin, 1960s C: 6m

Although public attention focused on the fact that this was the first Irish play openly to debate homosexuality, Mr Roche is primarily a catalyst to self-revelation for Kelly and Seamus. Both men are willing to collude in what appears to be homophobic manslaughter, but perhaps with Kelly's acknowledgement of his homosexuality and Seamus's looking for more in his marriage, the sterile lives of these men may be improved through the ‘resurrection’ and forgiveness of Mr Roche.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).

Reference entries

Thomas Kilroy (b. 1934)