The Wake of Dorcas Kelly is a glimpse into the lives of the women of an “inn”, a brothel in Dublin in the 19th century. Dorcas Kelly, once the proprietor of the establishment in question – now the corpse, is laid out for toasts, eulogies, and unexpected revelations.
The primary mourners are three of the women that for Dorcas; Siobhan, Myra and Kate (Irina Kaplan, Florence Scagliarini and Phoebe Mar Halkowich respectively). These women, wildly different, share the bond not just because they are prostitutes, but because they are independent in a male dominated world. And the world outside is in a riot to get in to attack the women, not for the profession but because they stole Dorcas’ body from potter’s field to give her a proper wake and burial.
|Irina Kaplan, Florence Scagliarini, Eamon Murpy, Adam Belvo, Nicolas Thomas, Phoebe Mar Halkowich|
The main male characters in the show struggle to keep up with the women. Willian (Eamon Murphy) is hired to keep the mob at bay, although he comes into the wake frequently to give updates, partake in spirits and try to make time with the women. Tom (Nicolas Thomas) palys the part of a customer trying to make an honest woman of Siobhan, which she wants no part of. And Father Jack Dancy (Adam Belvo) wakes up in the brothel to be told to give Dorcas a proper send off.
Siobhan and Myra play the two women well, but expectedly. Whores with a kind heart underneath the make-up and prickly exteriors. Kate, on the other hand, is taking over Dorcas’ business after being an employ and the money woman for a while. She is not willing to give up what freedom she has in order to join the ranks of respectable woman. Kyra Jackson plays Fannie, a worked that married into the respectable society. She drops by repeatedly, supposedly to pay her respects, but more realistically because she still misses the comradery of Inn. Frannie achieved the “dream” of marriage and the good life, only to be rejected by rest of society and looks to the women as her friends.
|Irene Kaplan and Florence Scagiarini|
The Wake of Dorcas Kelly is a comedy first and foremost. But it also explores the power and limits of the power which these women have gained by operating outside mainstream society.. Siobhan and Myra are tempted by the better life but are aware that this means a loss of autonomy.
Well written and directed by Sara Fellini, The Wake of Drocas Kelly explores the power dynamics of the age, without sacrificing the story or laughs to get there. My one complaint would be the accents which range from New York Irish bartender to unintelligible Dubliner. They are all good, but some require such a struggle to understand, you lose the plot for moments.
The Wake of Dorcas Kelly is a welcome return to live theater that entertains and makes you think. That is a pleasure to enjoy after so long without it.
The Wake of Dorcas Kelly