Billy Roche

The Diary of Maynard Perdu   Looking back in years to come, The Diary of Maynard Perdu might be perceived as the odd man out in the considerable oeuvre of Billy Roche, but this would be a mistake. When you consider his plays, from The Wexford Trilogy to On Such as We, the short stories, songs, screenplays and early novel, The Diary of Maynard Perdu is the orphan on the storm, almost un-Roche like. Perhaps it is the genesis: The Diary of Maynard Perdu is a commissioned work, its unveiling timed to coincide with the second revisiting of the Spiegeltent to Wexford in 2013. And yet, taking Roche out of his comfort zone, the world which connects The Wexford Trilogy with the Homeric sagas of Tales from Rainwater Pond, has not diminished the muse or diluted his craft. The Diary of Maynard Perdu is quite brilliant, all the more so when it is performed, as opposed to merely read, by the author, which he has done quite successfully in intimate Berlin-style cafes: The Cotton Tree in Enniscorthy and Fusion in Wexford.   The Diary of Maynard Perdu finds Roche on unfamiliar terrain at the outset: Maynard Perru is a cross between Byron and Don Giovanni, a wanderer through Europe in the grand tradition of another enfant terrible, a Marrakech-attired Rimbaud, a diary composed in the manner of Bram Stoker’s Jonathan Harker, a journey of all the senses which, like any great odyssey, concludes with a visit home by boat. The Don Juan persona is ever present: ‘They looked at me as one might gaze at an impressive work of art. And who could blame them, for I am a beautiful man, sculpted by God from skin and blood and bone. Yes, I am Adonis.’ Though the mood darkens towards the end like a brooding storm, the levity and joie de vive are never dispensed with.  The Diary of Maynard Perdu is also a conduit for the physical presence of Wexford, with some beautifully descriptive passages,  none more so than the following: ‘I am walking along the Quayfront, nipping up a medieval side street to the main drag that snakes its way through the centre of this strange little Viking town…I have walked these streets before – in the sun and the rain. I have seen these faces and heard these voices and witnessed their sad refrains. Yes, I was someone’s son, somebody’s brother, some lover’s lover, in another life perhaps, in another incarnation.’

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