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Christ Deliver Us!


Thomas Kilroy

After Wedekind

Available in Hardback only



Christ Deliver Us, inspired by Spring Awakening (published in 1891 and first performed in 1906) transposes Frank Wedekind’s notorious ‘children’s tragedy’ from fin-de-siècle Germany to the equally repressive atmosphere of Ireland immediately after World War II.

In and around a Catholic Diocesan College and an Industrial School for ‘difficult’ boys Thomas Kilroy explores and exposes the uncertainties and frustrations of sexual blossoming, the pressures exerted by parents and teachers – in particular ordained teachers – who forfeit authority for power with its legacy of systematic bullying. As its characters respond to ‘whispers of hope and desires’ and an unquenchable wish to be free, this scathing drama, while hinting at the redeeming possibilities of love, asserts the extortionate price put on childhood by both Church and State.

Like his friend Brian Friel, Thomas Kilroy has been a keystone of Irish theatre for more than half-a-century. He is also one of its most inventive, influential and valued artists.

Kilroy’s concern is how sexual awakening is corrupted by the shadow of physical abuse, where ignorance is enforced with beatings and budding desires can warp into something dangerous. It may count as a period drama, but its echoes are heard today.

Like Wedekind, Kilroy takes great care neither to moralise nor demonise. Several of his priests may be tyrants and hypocrites, but . . . offer shadows of tolerance and charity. It is the culture that is contaminated, where parental figures sway between fretfulness, lenience and inflexible authoritarianism.

Kilroy’s last moments mark his sharpest deviations from Wedekind. Reconciling sex, spirituality and self-determination, and defining them away from institutional corruption, his compassion speaks directly to today, delivering us from cynicism and hopelessness with a notably secular prayer.

— Peter Crawley, The Irish Times

Year Published: 2010
Details: 72pp
ISBN PBK: 978 1 85235 488 6
ISBN HBK: 978 1 85235 489 3

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