Members say: Great acting, Great staging, Enchanting, Entertaining, Absorbing

About the show

Irish Rep revives its immersive adaptation of James Joyce’s novella about a holiday gathering in 1904 Dublin, staged in a historic Victorian mansion.

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At the party are students, friends, a celebrated tenor, a lost alcoholic, and a couple: Gabriel and Gretta Conroy. Over the course of the evening, there are conversations, music, dancing, and dining. There are speeches and disagreements–polite and impolite–and when it is all over, Gabriel learns something about his wife that changes his sense of who she is and who they are to each other, and what it actually means to be alive–or dead. An audience of 40 guests attends the party alongside the actors, moving from room to room, and dining on a meal inspired by the menu in the novella. 

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Epoch Times

“This site-specific and completely immersive production offers a poignant look at the emptiness of seemingly contented people...O’Reilly handles the material perfectly, letting events and moments slowly build until each of the characters becomes achingly real and alive. There is not a hint of the drabness that sometimes accompanies a period piece...A walk down a shadowed memory lane wrapped in the brightness of a holiday celebration, “The Dead, 1904” makes for a truly unforgettable experience." Full Review

Irish Central

"It can only be hoped that this extraordinary experience becomes an annual production...There is a palpable sense of occasion, and that welcoming holiday atmosphere feels entirely right...We watch a proud but overlooked city and the people who dwell in it recall older, usually better times. But all night there is an under music of lament that rises and rises as the night progresses and that this production (directed by Ciaran O'Reilly) handles masterfully." Full Review


"A welcome and decidedly grown-up addition to the holiday season's usual roster of theatrical fare. Ciarán O'Reilly once again directs a superb cast...Paul Muldoon and Jean Hanff Korelitz's adaptation captures the deceptively plotless narrative of Joyce's story...'The Dead, 1904' gives the uncanny sense of entering a beautifully wrought literary world that conjures the misty mood of the holiday season as present joys mingle gently with wistful memories of the past." Full Review

Stage Buddy

“It's as if you've stepped back in time to a lavish turn-of-the-century Christmas party. That, and the chance to inhabit Joyce's rich world, are the two best aspects of ‘The Dead, 1904’...Though Melissa Gilbert's Gretta feels a bit high-strung, her loud emotion is the perfect counterpart to Collins' understated Gabriel...When we reach that final line which is possibly one of the most perfect endings ever written - there is a quiet sense of wonder not unlike the spell cast by Joyce's final line." Full Review

Metro (US)

"The lively dinner party that has taken over the American Irish Historical Society is done no favors by its title: 'The Dead 1904'...The lack of plot is, in a rare treat, not detrimental to the experience...Instead of allowing existential dread to merely haunt its celebration, 'The Dead 1904' confronts it in a night that is a feast for the mind and belly, as the best gatherings are. It is a reminder to live well — otherwise, we’re just dying slowly." Full Review


"Unusual and slightly subdued evening. Still, this may be a party, but it ain’t no disco!...As is true of a lot of dinner parties, then and now, there’s a splash of drama, some barely-contained tensions, and a fair amount of banality...Still and all, it seems like we’ll leave pleasantly full and glad that nothing eventful actually happened...If 'The Dead, 1904' accomplishes its goals, we leave the house as different people than when we entered, which may be more than some people bargained for." Full Review


“An immersive experience of the most genteel variety...Lovingly and smoothly staged...The adaptation is an intimate experience that gently and richly engages all the senses...Music also plays a central role in the production, eliciting not only good cheer, but also buried emotions to rise from their graves. As with the novella, the evening ends on a note of bittersweet melancholy that’s haunting...The current cast is just wonderful.” Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

for a previous production "A skillfully staged, immersive adaptation...The show is transporting, thanks in large part to its elegant setting...It’s a subtle but haunting tale, and the immersive adaptation draws us into it skillfully. We have to jostle for optimum position in the small rooms and risk losing some intimate moments. But the dinner scene, in which we dine with the characters, is beautifully handled, and when we sit in the Conroys’ bedroom during their emotional exchange, the effect is nearly voyeuristic." Full Review

AM New York

for a previous production "'The Dead' is ideally suited for the immersive theater treatment since it brings to life a boisterous holiday party, full of dancing, drinking, singing, toasting and eating. The production (directed with an eye for detail by Ciaran O’Reilly) manages to combine the fun and spontaneity of immersive theater with tender and nuanced acting from an accomplished cast. The dialogue is lifted directly from the original text...Even with dinner and drinks included, the ticket price is absurdly expensive." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

for a previous production "The resulting magic is enough to more than cancel out any dramaturgical mediocrity...The thinness of the plot is unavoidable...I felt, as it's seldom possible to do, as though I really was a part of the play—in no small part because I actually was...It's easy, perhaps necessary, to forgive 'The Dead, 1904' a lot, even if you don't want to...'The Dead, 1904' is in no way a terrific play—it is, nonetheless, theatre at its most absorbing." Full Review

Village Voice

for a previous production "It's a delicate, graceful plot that cries out for no less delicate and graceful a staging, and for the most part, Muldoon and Korelitz's elegant script succeeds. But the immersive elements are often distracting...The play's strongest scene, tellingly, is its most traditional...Here, without its experimental trappings, 'The Dead, 1904' is nothing more, and nothing less, than a wrenching look into what goes unsaid in a marriage. That's why the story shines, and where the play shines, too." Full Review


for a previous production "Through a series of choreographed moments (some more subtle than others), director Ciarán O'Reilly gives us the feeling of being invited to a family dinner during which a few skeletons escape the closet...While it doesn't feel as effortless as other immersive attractions, it gets the job done...'The Dead, 1904' is full of finely crafted moments, as well as many more that have a blunter quality. It's not a perfect immersive production, but one has to admire Irish Rep for taking the risk." Full Review

The New York Times

for a previous production "The performers inhabit their roles with vivacity, seemingly unaware of the audience members whose eyes are trained on them...But when the adapters translate Gabriel’s turbulent sensations into a long monologue, the spell of closely observed naturalism is inevitably broken...Ultimately 'The Dead, 1904' is more memorable as a festive party than as a heart-searing tale of the elusiveness of love, and the sadness — but also the beauty — inherent in the transitory nature of life." Full Review


for a previous production "It’s all kind of fun, though perhaps not the best way, until the very end, of experiencing Joyce’s story. The production is faithful to him, but what’s missing is the author’s voice. Without a narrative guide, things are loose and disconnected...At dinner, for example, rather than straining to hear the characters’ low conversation, you end up chatting with the person seated next to you...The actors also sometimes distractingly break character as they interact with the audience." Full Review

Time Out New York

for a previous production "Neither the writing nor the ensemble acting does much to fill in the spaces of Joyce’s spare descriptions...It is good fun for a while...But more often, the dialogue seems forced; the audience is not integrated into the action, but merely watches it at uncomfortably close range...'The Dead, 1904' fares best at its conclusion, when it abandons the conceit of our presence at the party...In this openly theatrical and literary scene, the story comes briefly to life." Full Review

Ambitious, Enchanting, Great everything, Transformative, Epiphanic

See it if you hunger for a theatrical experience that you'll be able to remember and discuss decades from now. Or, if you want to experience Joyce.

Don't see it if You are not a fan of James Joyce, if you don't like standing for a period of time, and if immersive theatre is not for you.

Also Like Nicholas NIckleby almost 40 years ago, The Dead is an event that ... Read more Read less

Must see, Intimate, Unique experience, Beautifully atmospheric, Wonderful actors

See it if you are willing to be totally drawn into 1904 Ireland, sit at a meal (yes, with wine) with strangers & experience these characters up close

Don't see it if you don't like standing for long periods, engaging with the actors and moving from room-to-room;

Also I knew the play but was unprepared for this last night. As it actually... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Enchanting, Sumptuous, Contemplative, Ghostly

See it if Lovely visit to the past. Act1- Food, music, & conversation in the 1904 Irish countryside. Act2- Reflections on mortality; marriage secrets.

Don't see it if Recommend reading the novella beforehand. Not high drama, more of a slice of life. Dress up and buy the dinner for the full experience.

Also Great immersion. I really felt like I was in 1904 Ireland. The adaptat... Read more Read less

Enchanting, Intelligent, Great writing

See it if you have a melancholy soul. The concluding scene is so very Irish. The words go right to your heart (as if I should comment on James Joyce

Don't see it if you aren't willing to stand for a long time, and get uncomfortable in a non-traditional theater setting

Also I was a non-diner, which worked well for me as it was easier to listen... Read more Read less

Clever, Disappointing, Slow, Dated, Great staging

See it if you want the wonderful opportunity to see a turn of the century mansion. Unfortunately the play is superficial and disappointing.

Don't see it if you want an evening of theater. This is an experience by virtue of the setting. Joyce does not make much of an appearance

Delightful, Intelligent, Great writing, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if You would enjoy immersive theater, actually being in the party room while the party is going on.

Don't see it if You've never heard of James Joyce.

During previews
Enchanting, Exquisite, Intelligent, Quirky, Great staging

See it if you like immersive theater. The settings are lovely, the interaction w the actors delightful but unpressured. Song, drink, food - & sadness.

Don't see it if you don't like Joyce, or don't like being near the 'action.' This is a small story, on a small scale, about human connections.

During previews
Ambitious, Clever

See it if You enjoy immersive theater but recognize that James Joyce is a tough sell in terms of theater.

Don't see it if Take yourself overly serious and have never picked up a Joyce book. This is for fun loving English PhDs and the people who love them!

During previews
Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Resonant

See it if A holiday season treat, warm, inviting, and evocative. The immersive environment and in-performance meal add to the festive spirit

Don't see it if You don't like immersive experiences, have difficulty standing or walking stairs.

Also The evening's worst enemy is the script adaptation of Joyce's novella.... Read more Read less

During previews For a previous production
Enchanting, Great acting, Masterful, Must see, Great staging

See it if This was absolutely stunning! From the moment you walk up the staircase to the party you are transported with drink, great food and talent!

Don't see it if Play is very intimate which can be a bit much if not ready to give yourself to the moment. Everything about this adaptation was perfect!

During previews For a previous production
Great acting, Great writing, Great staging

See it if you can afford it. It's a splurge, but worth it for a magical evening of theater in an intimate setting. The final scene is breathtaking.

Don't see it if you don't like/can't do immersive theater that involves a lot of standing and moving around by the audience.

Also Familiarity with the James Joyce short story and/or the John Huston mo... Read more Read less

During previews For a previous production
Delightful, Great acting, Intelligent, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if Interactive drama. A unique experience in a 5th Ave mansion. Irish history. Excellent caste

Don't see it if Do not appreciate innovative theater.

Also The meal was actually tasty

During previews For a previous production
Absorbing, Delightful

See it if Nice setting this James Joyce play in a 5th Ave.townhouse with a polished cast Boyd Gaines and Kate Burton among them. Dinner is included.

Don't see it if This theatrical event doesn't come cheap. I was a guest and noticed a sticker price og $300.

During previews For a previous production
Ambitious, Clever, Great acting, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you want James Joyce Dinner Theatre in a sumptuous east side mansion and can afford the ticket price.

Don't see it if you hate immersive theatre, love only literal James Joyce and are bored by Irish politics

During previews For a previous production
Absorbing, Delightful, Enchanting, Exquisite, Great acting

See it if You want to live a James Joyce ta

Don't see it if You don’t like James Joyce’s literature.

Also It is in a 19 century house in 5th Avenue. Since you step into the pla... Read more Read less

During previews For a previous production
Poignant, Intelligent, Memorable, Lush, Novel

See it if you want to leave 2016 to live in 1904 for 2 hrs.Life is gentler, but not w/o problems. Great setting, costumes, acting. A memorable night.

Don't see it if you want to make best use of your theater budget. Still, it was a privilege to be in a period piece. Last scene is particularly well done.

Also The dinner was good, but a bit rushed: With prior notice, they accommo... Read more Read less

During previews For a previous production
Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you like interactive theatre set in a beautiful townhouse , performed around the audience including dinner in a beautiful dining room.

Don't see it if You are not a fan of James Joyce or don't like theater performed in several locations with you as a part of the show.

During previews For a previous production
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You like James Joyce, if you like interactive theater and you want to enjoy a meal like the one in the book

Don't see it if You don't like the author, the story interactions with actors, don't want to pay so much for dinner,you don't like shows set in the 1900s

During previews For a previous production
Enchanting, Exquisite, Great acting, Great staging, Worth the splurge

See it if You want to be absorbed into the lovely and wistful holiday party in Dublin of 1904 which Joyce's novella evokes. Truly special theater!

Don't see it if You don't like immersive theater, or want something with lots of action . This is a thoughtful, almost poetic, story and play. Memorable!

Also The catered meal was delicious - and fit perfectly with the story and ... Read more Read less

During previews For a previous production
Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Masterful, Riveting, Entertaining

See it if You want to be immersed in the characters lives , which takes place in a beautiful mansion on fifth Ave. You wine and dine with the cast.

Don't see it if You can't afford the price of either$300 or $1,000 to wine and dine in a fifth Ave. mansion with a very talented cast.

During previews For a previous production
Absorbing, Clever, Enchanting, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if you like quality acting, unique theater experiences, mingling with actors, literary allusions, musical inerludes, historic settings.

Don't see it if you need standard theatrical fare, typical plot lines.

Cast & Creatives (21)