The Dead’ is alive: Pioneer Theatre Company’s production of Joyce’s classic tale is full of spirit and complexity

By By Kevin Stanfa

By Kevin Stanfa

Pioneer Theatre Company’s new musical production, based on James Joyce’s “The Dead,” is a multi-layered tale of neglect, inherited guilt and spousal misunderstanding set to a scene of Irish celebration and song.

Narrated by lead character Gabriel, this Joycean musical is set in the home of his two aunts, where family and friends have gathered for a Christmas party. Gabriel steps out of the action periodically to offer his view on people and situations while Gretta, his wife and one of the most notable performers, is reminded of a secret, sorrowful past.

Most of the action in the show centers on the many characters that come together to sing and “wake the dead.” Julia, aunt to Gabriel, becomes ill, but the group comes to her aid with song and warmth. Played by Alice Cannon, Julia gives the show one of its most delightful and dynamic performances.

However, “The Dead” is not all song and dance. The underlying themes of Joyce’s story are darker and more troubling than the simple set-up of holiday celebration-characters in the play are forced to deal with specters from the past, remorse over love lost and the stark reality many of their lives are based on lies, misunderstanding and inherited convention.

With its complexity and wonderful performances, “The Dead” is beautifully alive and worth the price of admission. The Pioneer Company handles the music, emotion and story of each character with aplomb. Joyce fans can rest assured that this engagement is a true work of poetry that captures the Irish spirit and heart of this classic story.

Performances are Feb. 16-March 5 at the Pioneer Memorial Theatre.

Curtain times are Mon-Thu at 7:30 p.m., Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. with a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturdays.

Ticket prices range from $20-$39 with student discounts available (see Pioneer box office for details or call 581-6961 for info).

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Contributed to by Eryn Green

Performances are Feb. 16-March 5 at the Pioneer Memorial Theatre. Curtain times are Mon-Thu at 7:30 p.m., Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. with a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturdays. Ticket prices range from $20-$39 with student discounts available.