Russell Thorburn

About Russell

Happy Birthday, James Joyce

The Playback

Growing Up Irish

The Long Labor of Seamus Murphy's Wife

Dylan Thomas in
New York

The Adventures of
Big Daddy and
Ned Nuclear

Drama Home

The Long Labor of Seamus Murphy's Wife

At a grocery where he works in produce an Irishman named Murphy hears the ghost of his father accuse him of murder. Murphy protests that he isn’t his father’s murderer, and vows to find the person who poisoned him. His wife begins her long labor and Murphy, searching for his father’s killer at a junkyard, encounters a person called Junkman who produces the skull of his father. As a hapless detective in search of evidence, Seamus Murphy discovers the startling truth, but not until other bodies start piling up.

The Long Labor of Seamus Murphy’s Wife was performed January 3, 2003, at the Marquette Arts and Culture Center, with the Samuel Beckett Players.

Written by Russell Thorburn

Funded by CUPPAD and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.


"I'm all alone with my labor. Let's see how it's going to feel. Oh Jaysus it can't be more than a hair in my ear, a fly brushing my cheek, a tremble in the ear drum. A long labor isn't necessarily a bad thing. There now it's feeling better, finally. That wasn't bad. It's not like being murdered--now that's something more like a bee bite, a razor at the throat, or poison on the toungue. Murder doesn't change the world, only the person murdered."

"I'm not dead. If I were dead, you'd know. But I'm here before you. Witness a solitary finger pointing, the same finger that touches my nose, or the kick of a leg, the kick of my other leg, its foot reaching Fergus in the ass, my mouth widening in a smile, tongue fluttering like a flag, my head, of course bristling with gray hair, eyes like promises broken open like a estuary flooded in early spring."

-from The Long Labor of Seamus Murphy's Wife