Composers and their stage works 

Billy Irish

Thomas Babe

First presented as a joint production of the New York Shakespeare Festival and The Manhattan Theatre Club (1977)

The scene is a rundown farm in Vermont where two brothers, Billy Irish and Joe Witness, tell each other tales of their conversations with the likes of Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan and (as they also imagine themselves to be Jesse and Frank James) of the men they have killed in the course of their criminal careers. When a young couple appear, claiming that their car has broken down, Billy and Joe suspect a trap - a premonition which is borne out when the boy and girl shortly steal back, announcing that they are Bonnie and Clyde and taking the two brothers captive. When all four are then encircled and held at bay by an unseen force which gives them two minutes to surrender, the line between fantasy and reality is blurred still further and yet, somehow, also illuminated by the ensuing talk of Vietnam, political assassinations, religious fanatics, Charles Manson and other people and events of America's turbulent recent past. In the end Billy shoots Joe and then goes out to face a fusillade of bullets himself - but not before helping the two young people to escape, freeing them to pursue the disturbing destiny for which, sadly, the disjointed times have surely conditioned them.