Steppenwolf's Dublin Carol - A Chicago Premiere

John talks to Mark (William Petersen, Stephen Louis Grush


When I mentioned to friends and relatives that I was going to Steppenwolf to see   "Dublin Carol”, everyone, to a person said, “I’m jealous”.  Perhaps these reactions are the reason the play’s run has been extended to December 28.  This is the first of Conor McPherson’s two plays premiering in Chicago at Steppenwolf Theatre with “The Seafarer” to follow on December 4, 2008.  It is a play for the season; taking place on Christmas Eve and William Peterson of CSI fame is no small draw. "Dublin Carol", featuring Stephen Louis Grush, William Petersen and Nicole Wiesner, directed by Amy Morton, runs November 6 through December 28, 2008.

John distressed (William Petersen)


Playwright, Conor McPherson, who nearly died as a result of drink, is uniquely situated to capture the power of human isolation and in true Irish tradition, proceeds to do so brilliantly.  He has created a work that pulls the audience into the deep feelings of human pain and the struggle to cope with it. His play is dark, difficult to watch at times, and deeply moving.  Viewers are pulled bit by bit into the agony of a struggling soul, one that hurts so badly that only drink can blot the unbearable torture.

Containing themes reminiscent of “Christmas Carol”, this play set in Dublin tells of John’s past, which he nearly did not survive, his present that offers him the chance to confront that past and the possibility of redemption and a less isolated future.

A fatherly discussion (Stephen Louis Grush, William Petersen)


In eighty minutes with no intermission, John’s story is revealed to us. He is in the funeral business and in his late fifties. We meet him in the funeral parlor’s private office in Dublin minimally decorated for Christmas. John’s life is precariously balanced.  Mark, his young assistant is also the nephew of the man who “saved” him when he was at his lowest, offering him his current job.  He expresses his concern to Mark about his Uncle Noel’s illness and talks to him in a fatherly way offering advice and gradually revealing his own past. He is completely estranged from his wife, daughter and son.

Mary tries to persuade her father (Nicole Wiesner, William Petersen)


Mark leaves arranging to return for his pay and shortly afterwards, John has a visit from his daughter, Mary, who he has not seen for ten years.  She has a simple request.  John should come with her to visit her mother who is dying and please, will he make arrangements for her funeral?  Together they relive terrible years.  Some of the most powerful and moving moments of the play take place as Mary struggles for connection to this father, she loves and hates and John is forced to confront a past he has attempted to sidestep.

John reflecting (William Petersen)


John eventually agrees to go with Mary at five that evening.  He sleeps, awakens when Mark shakes him and in his stupor mistakes Mark for his son who is in England.  Increasingly unstable, he fills his cup with alcohol more and more frequently until it is time for Mary to pick him up.  Will he go?  Will he connect?

Mark returns upset(William Petersen,Stephen Louis Grush)


Will he be redeemed?

This is powerful theater that creeps into your psyche and remains to fill your thoughts for days.  Enjoy the fine acting and great staging, costuming and sets and be sure to remain for the post play discussion.

Steppenwolf’s Upstairs Theatre
1650 Halsted St.
312.335.1650
Online ticketing available: www.steppenwolf.org

Price: $50-$70 half-price rush tickets available one hour before show. Student discounts available.

Photos: Michael Brosilow















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