A dying king summons his old retainers, to take stock of his kingdom and to appoint his successor. He finds, to his horror, that his motley band of servants has betrayed his trust, and squandered his bounty on fripperies. He rages, as their reverence resolves into contempt, and as sickness wracks his body. He realises, too late, that he has ta’en too little care of his kingdom; now he must hand it over to men he despises.
Thomas Kilroy is one of Ireland’s leading dramatists and the author of a series of important plays, including Double Cross (1986), which juxtaposes the stories of Brendan Bracken (1901-58), Minister for Information during the Second World War, and William Joyce, ‘Lord Haw Haw’ (1906-46), who served as the principal Nazi propaganda broadcaster, and was executed for treason. Both were Irish. He is also the author of Tea and Sex and Shakespeare (1976), about a struggling writer battling his dysfunctional imagination; The Madame MacAdam Travelling Theatre (1991), a comedy about theatre companies touring Ireland in the Second World War; The Secret Fall of Constance Wilde (1997), and a number of other works. He was play editor at the Abbey Theatre Dublin for much of his distinguished career, as well as professor of English at Galway; was a director of the Field Day Company, which sought to provide imaginative ways of overcoming sectarianism in Northern Ireland, alongside Stephen Rea and Brian Friel, and was director of its touring company. The Abbey Theatre is hosting a week’s development workshop of a new play, The Trials of William Shakespeare, in November, conducted by Max Stafford Clark, and a revival of Double Cross is planned for next year in a joint production of the Abbey and the Lyric Theatre, Belfast. As a young student at University College Dublin he wrote an MA thesis on Thomas Nashe, ‘Satirical Elements in the Prose of Thomas Nashe’ (1959) and he was kind enough to answer my questions on the influence he thinks Nashe had on his writing career.