Dublin Carol

Previewed 15 January 2000, Closed 12 February 2000 at the Old Vic Theatre (preview performances)
Previewed 17 February 2000, Opened 22 February 2000, Closed 18 March 2000 at the Royal Court Theatre

Conor McPherson's new play Dublin Carol in London starring Brian Cox and directed by Ian Rickson

"I thought of it like God has sent me a drink angel. Like I believed in God and he'd sent this to take care of me. And that she was confused because she didn't know why God has sent her." The haunting story of a man laid waste by alcoholism who is offered a last chance for redemption by his estranged daughter.

The cast features Brian Cox as 'John', Andrew Scott as 'Mark', and Bronagh Gallagher as 'Mary'. Directed by Ian Rickson with designs by Rae Smith, lighting by Paule Constable, music by Stephen Warbeck, and sound by Paul Arditti.

This production was originally scheduled to re-open the newly refurbished Royal Court Theatre - with previews from 7 January, opening on 12 January 2000, and closing on 26 February 2000 - unfortunately, following much rumour, it was confirmed on 20 December 1999, barely two weeks before public previews where due to start, that the building work at the Royal Court was delayed and therefore this production would have a run of 'preview performances' at the Old Vic Theatre before transferring to the Royal Court Theatre. For the run at The Old Vic Theatre both the audience and the company where on the stage area, providing both a unique and intimate setting for the play.

"Conor McPherson made his name with the ghostly intimations of The Weir, which relied upon spells cast by story-telling reminiscence and confession in an Irish bar. McPherson again relies upon the tricky technique of narrative monologue in Dublin Carol, and the device lets him and us joltingly down. Imagine being button-holed in some glum Irish dive where a bibulous, middle-aged undertaker relieves himself of his familiar life story at your bored expense. You are immersed in a stream of his self-pitying consciousness... Neither motives nor explanations are given as he makes you wade with him through his pool of despond... Ian Rickson's atmospheric production, full of Christmas sounds and rain, cannot conceal the play's hollow heart." The London Evening Standard

"Conor McPherson's latest play is, frankly, dull. It's about a 50-something alcoholic undertaker whose estranged daughter tries to reconcile him with his dying wife on Christmas Eve. Brian Cox plays John, the boozed-up undertaker who manages to look suitably mortified. As you'd expect from an actor incapable of a note of sentimentality, he is terrific. You can almost feel the loneliness and fear beneath his jaunty chatter as he tops up his tea mug with Irish whiskey. But it's not enough. Unlike Dicken's Christmas Carol where Scrooge at least meets some ghosts, nothing happens in this version.... Despite visits from his daughter and a young man there is no story as such. This comes as a surprise because McPherson is a master of the yarn." The Daily Express

"First impressions are crucial. With Conor McPherson's The Weir it was love at first sight. In the case of McPherson's new play I feel affection rather than the quiver of excited passion. As so often, McPherson deals with a middle-aged Irishman in a state of desperation. Here he is a lonely Dublin undertaker, John Plankett, confronted on Christmas Eve by the ghosts of his past. As the title implies, there are strong Dickensian echoes, but Plunkett is less a Dublin Scroge than a reformed alcoholic... In the emotion-charged central scene of this 90-minute play he confronts his estranged daughter who wants him to come to the bedside of his dying wife... Where The Weir offers an extraordinary metaphor for Ireland, this play strikes me more as a study in individual despair... Ian Rickson's production boasts a magnificient performance by Brian Cox as Plunkett." The Guardian

Dublin Carol in London at the Old Vic Theatre previewed from 15 January 2000, and closed on 12 February 2000, transferred to the Royal Court Theatre previewed from 17 February 2000, opened on 22 February 2000, and closed on 18 March 2000