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A CurtainUp Review
Dublin Carol
I'm a Dublin man. Sometimes I wish maybe if I'd lived out in the country, what the hell would I've been like. Probably the same. Bullshit artist. — John
Jeffrey Bean (photo: Carol Rosegg)
It was inevitable that Conor McPherson's morose but incisively impassioned one-act play would find its way to the Irish Repertory Theatre. Here it is receiving as polished and vivid a production under the direction of Ciaran O'Reilly as one would want. By the author of such previously lauded plays as St. Nicholas, Rum &Bodka, Port Authority , Shining City, The Seafarer — with the latter two receiving Broadway productions.

Dublin Carol does not provide the chill or offer either the metaphysical or the mysterious aspects that marked his other plays. It does, however, resonate with one man's regrets, sorrows, and remorse even as it insightfully reveals the Irishman's gift to defend the bender and define his state of inebriation as an excusable escape from reality. And it is beautifully written in the recognizably grand old and often heart-breaking tradition of such icons of dramatic Irish literature as Sean O'Casey, Brendan Behan, and Martin McDonagh.

McPherson joins the aforementioned icons who write eloquently and with great feeling about compulsive drinkers. However, that does not necessarily bring me to the conclusion that we have a completely satisfying play here.

Impressively portrayed by Jeffrey Bean, who is making his Irish Rep debut, John's self-incriminating words and more words about the pain and sorrow he feels over a past of unredeemable behavior is easily understood. His job is as an assistant to a funeral director. His present state is one of questionable consciousness. But it is that state to which we, as well as the play's other two characters, are subjected. His words may be as easily understood or dismissed as are the prescribed torrent of truths and lies that are the makings of any hangover. John's past and present actions under the influence may initiate our concern only to the point where we begin to wonder what's at stake.

The play takes place on Christmas Eve within the grimly furnished Dublin office of the funeral parlor which is not helped by the paltry Christmas decor. Sounding boards for his chatter are Mark (Cillian Hegarty), the nephew of John's employer who has assisted him and who listens dutifully and offers little about himself besides that he's dating some nice young woman. More eventful is the visit by Mary (Sarah Street), his estranged daughter who reminds Joy not only dutifully but tenderly that he should visit his dying wife who he abandoned years ago. The fine performances of both Hegarty and Street do deepen the text and enrich the situation.

Your own head may begin to spin as John rattles on about the solace of drinking with the artfulness of a craftsman who has spent years honing, embracing and justifying a life mainly disfigured by booze and self-deception. The question is not whether John is fooling himself, as he knows he isn't. But whether we are able to find deep inside of him something of value. McPherson believes he has. I am not so sure.

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< Dublin Carol by Conor McPherson
Directed by Ciaran O’Reilly
Cast: Jeffrey Bean (John), Cillian Hegarty (Mark), Sarah Street (Mary)
Scenic Design: Charlie Corcoran
Costume Design: Leon Dobkowski
Lighting Design: Michael Gottlieb
Sound Design: M. Florian Staab
Original Music: Ryan Rumery
Production Stage Manager: Jeff Davolt
Running Time: 1 hour 20 minutes no intermission
Irish Repertory Theatre. 132 West 22nd Street
212- 727- 2737
Tickets: $45 - $70
Performances: Wednesdays at 3 pm and 8 pm; Thursdays at 7 pm; Fridays at 8 pm; Saturdays at 3 pm and 8 pm; and Sundays at 3 pm. No performance on Wednesday, October 2 at 3 pm.
From 09/20/19 Opened 10/01/19 Ends 11/10/19
Review by Simon Saltzman based on performance 09/28/19

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