The Wake of Dorcas Kelly

What you need to know before purchasing your ticket to this play!

By Andrew Andrews

Whores and clients sit watch during The Wake of Dorcas Kelly while a priest comforts the injured head of security, in spit & vigor’s debut of their artistic director Sara Fellini’s new play. Original production photos by Nick Thomas.

Dublin, Ireland, 1761.

The body of Madame Dorcas Kelly has just been smuggled into her house of ill repute for a proper wake, after being hanged and burned by the angry mob outside.

Clients and a former whore pop in and out of the brothel to pay their respects, recall memories and gossip about the situation, as a priest who’s passed out from too much opium is dragged in through the window and bound in rope, to perform last rights when he eventually comes-to.

As the night goes on, the company uncovers increasingly-disturbing secrets about the deceased madame, eventually realizing that the angry mob was more justified in their action than originally anticipated.

The performance is punctuated by musical interludes.

The Wake of Dorcas Kelly is the second production we’ve attended at The Players Theatre on Macdougal Street, and sadly, like the first, it was a terrible disappointment.

Although the costumes were perfect and a reasonable effort went into designing and executing the set, that’s really all the good I can say about this performance.

Most of the actors’ Irish accents sounded incredibly forced, while others didn’t bother to feign an accent at all. Worst yet, one of the actors—fortunately in the most minor role—seemed to have no acting experience whatsoever!

The real problem with this production, however, is in the script and its direction: lacking any real tension beyond the completely-disconnected murmur of the angry mob outside, the story is so difficult to sit through that I would have up-and-left were it not for the hope that it would redeem itself in the end.

Sadly enough, that didn’t happen.

There’s only one reason you should drop $42 on a ticket to this show: as a charitable donation to the production company.

Even if you’re willing to do that, I’d still recommend that you forfeit your admission and stay home.

If you share my general opinion that a bad night at the theatre is better than a good night on the sofa, let me remind you that there’s an exception to every rule.


Andrew Andrews attended The Wake of Dorcas Kelly at Players Theatre in Manhattan on Thursday, July 15, 2021 @ 8:00pm to write this review.