Dublin Carol
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by David Allen

Aurora Theatre in Berkeley revisits Irish playwright Conor McPherson’s talent with his drama Dublin Carol. Over four years ago they produced McPherson’s The Weir. The play, about a group of folks drinking and telling ghost stories in an Irish pub, got rave reviews for its haunting images, but what was most chilling was the deep isolationism of its characters and their desperation for human connection.

This too is the haunting we feel in Dublin Carol. John (Gary Armagnac) works at a funeral home. The mortician that owns the place befriended John, treated his dependency on alcohol with compassion and gave John a chance when no one else would. The play opens in the funeral home’s office, a decorated Christmas tree to the right of the desks. We soon realize that John may have modified his drinking habits to at least be functional on his job but he still drinks. As John caries on what appears to be a light hearted conversation with his young coworker Mark (Nicholas Pelczar), we’re slowly made aware that John’s savior, the mortician, is in the hospital. Later John’s daughter (Holli Hornlien), who he hasn’t seen in about 20 years, drops by to tell her father that her mother is also in the hospital. Though he hasn’t seen his x-wife in over 20 years, John still refers to her as “my wife.”

Even with his daughter he tries to keep the conversation light. But the audience soon realizes that beneath it all John’s fragile foundation is crumbling. Two of the most meaningful people in his life may soon be leaving this world. His job is his only foundation and its stability is ironically based on death.

Subtlety is what makes this drama powerful, from the excellent performances of the entire cast to the lighting, every element echoes John’s haunting isolation and his hesitant reaching out for some small touch of humanity.

For tickets or more information call (510) 843-4822 or visit www.auroratheatre.org.

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