Patricia Burke Brogan's plays have always seemed a little ahead of their time. Her 1992 Eclipsed was one of the first attempts to expose the abuse of women in the Magdelene laundries and, 10 years later, she courageously called for a more balanced view of Ireland 's Catholic past in Stained Glass at Samhain.
Requiem of Love is more personal and retrospective than either of those works, focusing on a man's attempts to come to terms with the death of his estranged wife. But although Burke Brogan is exploring new territory here, the moral generosity and painterly sensibility of her earlier plays remain evident.
John O'Kelly stands at the graveside of his wife Nora. He'd left her many years before, after being accused of a death for which he may have been responsible. Nora was left alone to raise their children; O'Kelly brawled his way drunkenly through Australia , sobering up on Good Friday each year to write her letters he never sent. Instead he carries them around, wrapped in an Irish tricolour.
Burke Brogan presents to us a man whose life has been ruined largely because of his own weaknesses - but by using tightly constructed images of forgiveness and transformation, she also leaves open the possibility of redemption for her character.
Requiem of Love therefore manages to be rich without being dense. It draws on a range of allusions to song, visual art, the natural world, and other cultures' funeral rituals, but never loses narrative impetus .... the script's haunting tone .... creates a strong, lingering contrast between O'Kelly's hopeless situation and the beauty of the language used to describe it. Patrick Lonergan, Irish Times