Traveler's USA Notebook

News,  Discoveries and Pleasures


Lehigh Valley
Hot Springs
Little Rock
Los Angeles
Rosemary Beach
Thimble islands

The Astrology  of Travel
Health on the Road
Luxe Guides






Dublin Carol

Posted 10/13/2019

Dublin Carol reviewed  by Fern Siegel for

   Alcoholism and disgrace are a potent mix, especially if the cycle is ongoing. Dublin Carol currently revived at the Irish Repertory Theater, confronts such issues. It is a minor play in the Conor McPherson canon, which includes The Weir, Shining City and The Seafarer, but still packs emotional punch.

John (Jeffrey Bean) is a middle-aged undertaker tortured by his past and consumed by  loneliness. His one friend is in the hospital, and his attempts at hospitality reek of pathos. Never has a plate of cookies seemed so forlorn.

We meet him on Christmas Eve at a funeral parlor outfitted with a gigantic cross, as he offers dubious advice to Mark (Cillian Hegarty), a young man considering his future.

Told in three scenes, Dublin Carol slowly unravels John’s past, though we’re not always invested in his story. It’s not until his estranged daughter Mary (Sarah Street) pays a holiday visit, armed with difficult news of her own, that the layers of John’s shame are fully revealed and the dramatic elements kick in.

Yes, alcohol has ruined him, but so has his failure to confront the pain he has caused.

Now, he’s forced to face his misdeeds — and the complex and sometimes contradictory emotions, in all quarters, that arise as a result.

Bean’s performance is first-rate; he captures all the nuances of a troubled soul. Street’s stoicism is equally striking, until she explains what she wants from her unreliable father. It’s a telling moment.

The caveat is that audiences may not be fully engaged with anyone’s plight. Sadly, wayward fathers and drink elicit a finite amount of pity and anger, often in equal measure. And as intimate works go, Dublin Carol, though touching and well acted, has a quiet, understated finish. The stirrings of conscience are subtle and unpredictable.  —Fern Siegel