The Informer

by Thomas Murphy (Author)
©2008 Monographs X, 82 Pages
Series: Carysfort Press Ltd., Volume 217


The Informer, Tom Murphy’s stage adaptation of Liam O’Flaherty’s novel, was produced in the 1981 Dublin Theatre Festival, directed by the playwright himself, with Liam Neeson in the leading role.
The central subject of the play is the quest a character at the point of emotional and moral breakdown for some source of meaning or identity. In the case of Gypo Nolan, the informer of the title, this involves a nightmarish progress through a Dublin underworld in which he changes from a Judas figure to a scapegoat surrogate for Jesus, taking upon himself the sins of the world. A cinematic style, with flash-back and intercut scenes, is used rather than a conventional theatrical structure to catch the fevered and phantasmagoric progression of Gypo’s mind. The language, characteristically for Murphy, mixes graphically colloquial Dublin slang with the haunted inarticulateness of the central character groping for the meaning of his own actions. The dynamic rhythm of the action builds towards an inevitable but theatrically satisfying tragic catastrophe.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Contents
  • Title Page
  • Copyright

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Scene One

An idyllic, rural cottage. A chair … Mother, an apple-cheeked, old lady, has entered, leaning on a stick. She starts, totters, as if seeing a ghost.

Arabella, who will come hurrying in in a moment with a basket of flowers, is young, beautiful, spirited and very kind.

Mother: Oooooo!

Arabella: Mother! Mother!

Mother: (to her) Bartholemew!

Arabella: Mother?

Mother: Your dear father – (She points to a spot, whispers:) Bartholemew.

Arabella: Shriek! (Then:) There is nothing there. Morning light through the lattice contrives in variegated hues to dissemble, amusingly.

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Mother: No, my dear. It was on that spot your dear father breathed his last.

Arabella: Oh, Mother. Let me help you to the chair.

Mother: That chair is indeed dear to me.

Arabella: There. (Seating her)

Mother: For it was in this chair he sat the day before he passed away. Oh how he loved this calm retreat! And ‘twas often in his last illness, he … he –

Arabella: He rejoiced in you, mother.

Mother: He rejoiced in me, Arabella. The comfort he drew from the knowledge that it should be myself would close his eyes at last to these rural shades; ah yes, and soon follow him, to be laid in yon little nook abroad out there beside him. And what is more –

Arabella: Dearest, dearest, dearest, Mother, it is true that this cottage, and its contents, are most dear to us, but we are not the proprietors, and now word is abroad that our worthy landlord, Patrick Joseph Kilcullen, is failing fast.

Mother: Aa no! Old Paddy Joe?

Arabella: I fear so. And should he cease the world we would be left in the hands of his son, Young Edward Kilcullen, who has come down from college, word on whom is scant other than that he has been paying nocturnal calls on the village tavern of late.

Mother: My beloved child! Who will protect you when I am gone?

Arabella: Oh dear, I did not mean to alarm you.

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Mother: Hark!

A knock at the door.

That must be someone. Come in!

Enter McGinty.

McGinty: Good Mrs Clancy – Remember me? – One of the McGinty family below? – Now Lawyer McGinty. I once ran bare-foot in this village and knew your husband Bartley well, indeed I did and he knew me – Indeed I did – Good morning!

Mother: Good morning, sir!

Arabella: Sir! (Curtseys)

McGinty: Mmmm, young lady!

Mother: Arabella, child, a chair.

McGinty: Won’t sit. A sad calamity has befallen the village.

Mother: Not? Aa no!


X, 82
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2020 (April)
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Wien, 2008. X, 82 pp.

Biographical notes

Thomas Murphy (Author)


Title: The Informer
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94 pages