The Abbey Theatre rejected The Death and Resurrection of Mr. Roche by Thomas Kilroy in 1968. It went on to be produced at The Olympia in a production directed by Jim Fitzgerald. It became a hit of the Dublin Theatre Festival and went on to be revived twice at the Abbey, in 1973 and in 1989. In the Abbey’s 1973 production Peader Lamb played the medical student, Eamon Kelly (pictured on the table, was Mr. Roche) and Micheal O hAonghusa played Kelly.
The play will be remembered for painting an unsettling portrait of Irish masculinity in a state of utter stasis, and was unique in exploring homosexuality in a chauvinistic culture without a hint of exoticism or sensationalism.
This play is one of Brian Friel’s favourite plays, he selected it to be read for his 80th birthday celebration. He once said of the play – “I have such respect for this play; as perfectly shaped as a Brancusi; a sympathetic exploration of a spiritual journey from DEATH to RESURRECTION. A very cool play of whispered affections. Respect sounds grudging. Envy is closer.”