Dermot Bolger


Plays by Dermot Bolger

Blinded by the Light

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Blinded by the Light is a manic black comedy, a madcap farce of drinking, smoking, Mormons, Catholics, transvestites and a saint all crammed into the tiny bedsit of the hapless Mick.

Mick’s priorities in life are finding new ways to call in sick for work, getting hold of some roach paper, and seeing Siobhan again: he needs nothing else to make him happy. But in a moment of idleness he lets a couple of evangelical Mormons into his bedsit; they are so delighted to have found a friendly ear, it seems unlikely they’ll ever leave. Despite Mick’s increasingly desperate attempts to shock them out of all hope of converting him, soon they are visiting three times a week – prompting his landlord to invite over Lily and Jack from the Legion of Mary, to bring him back into the Catholic fold. Mick can just about juggle his schedule of visiting evangelicals, until the moment that the petty criminals from upstairs present him with the preserved head of Saint Oliver Plunkett.

Bolger’s increasingly surreal comedy is a triumph of riotous humour and sharp observation. It was first produced in 1990 by the Abbey Theatre, Dublin.

The Holy Ground

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A widow packs her deceased husband’s papers into plastic bags and talks about her empty, silent life in Bolger’s sad and powerful monologue. Monica married a young man called Swifty Hurley, who was shy and sweet, and loved soccer more than anything. But unable to cope with his inability to conceive a child, he becomes a right-wing conservative campaigner, leaving Monica to disappear into silence and fantasy. Now, after a funeral at which no-one knew who she was, Monica looks back at how their love came to a bitter end.

The Holy Ground was first staged (with In High Germany as a double bill entitled The Tramway End) by the Gate Theatre, Dublin in 1990.

In High Germany

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

On a railway platform in Hamburg, Irish emigrant Eoin tells the story of his life, his country, and football. Bolger’s monologue is comic, thoughtful and poignant by turns, as he shows Eoin struggling to find an Ireland in which he can feel truly at home.

Eoin recalls his childhood in Dublin, playing football every day, watching his dad leave over and over to work in England, seeing the fighting on the news. He remembers growing up – or trying not to, following the European Championships, having to emigrate to Germany. He can never find what his father wished for him, a country to call his own. But it is on the terraces of the 1988 Championship where he finds the first sense of unity and belonging, a vision of Ireland in a foreign stadium.

In High Germany was first staged in 1990 at the Gate Theatre as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival.

The Lament for Arthur Cleary

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A play about one world giving way painfully to another, The Lament for Arthur Cleary is enacted on the borders of life and death. In a series of smooth fragments, two acts tell the story of Arthur Cleary’s return to Dublin, and his relationship with Kathy, with the other characters shifting roles around them to summon the landscape of the city in the 1980s. But Arthur can’t find the city of his youth, and feels lost in the same streets he grew up in; the new Dublin, damaged by unemployment and heroin, is unrecognisable to him.

Bolger’s potent play is inspired by the Gaelic poem ‘Caoineadh Airt Ui Laoire’, a lament for a man who dies because he cannot bend his pride to the demands of oppressive English rule. The Lament for Arthur Cleary was first performed in 1989 at the Project Arts Centre as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival.

Picture of Dermot Bolger

Dermot Bolger is an Irish novelist, playwright and poet. His plays include The Lament for Arthur Cleary (which received The Samuel Beckett Award for Best Debut Play), Blinded by the Light, In High Germany, The Holy Ground (which received an Edinburgh Fringe First award), April Bright, and The Passion of Jerome. The first part of his Ballymun Trilogy received the Irish Times/ESB Prize for Best New Irish Play of 2004.