World premiere of ‘The Wake of Dorcas Kelly’ at The Players Theatre

Dorcas (aka Darkey) Kelly (d. 1761) was a real-life Irish madam who operated The Maiden Tower brothel in Copper Alley, Dublin. Accused of killing shoemaker John Dowling on St. Patrick’s Day of 1760, she was convicted and brutally executed by partial hanging and then burning at the stake, while still alive, on Gallows Road (now called Baggot Street).

A group of prostitutes later held a wake for their beloved madam at The Maiden Tower and rioted in Copper Alley; thirteen of them were arrested for disorderly conduct and sent to Newgate Prison. According to a later report of 1788 (which did not appear in any contemporary accounts of Kelly’s trial), her brothel was further investigated and authorities allegedly found the corpses of five more men hidden in the vaults, thereby changing her status from murderer to serial killer.

Based on the true story, The Wake of Dorcas Kelly – a dark comedy written and directed by Sara Fellini, and presented by spit&vigor – will have its world premiere at Off-Broadway’s The Players Theatre beginning this week. The new historical fiction examines the sex, lies, murder, and mysteries of the dead, as the infamous madam’s intimate circle of mourning friends and family begin to question their own love, lust, fear, and anger, when Kelly’s well-kept secrets are unearthed and exposed.

Duoer Jia, Peter Oliver, and Kyra Jackson. Photo by Nick Thomas.

The live on-stage production features the cast of Adam Belvo, Kyra Jackson, Duoer Jia, Irina Kaplan, Phoebe Mar Halkowich, Eamon Murphy, Peter Oliver, and Nicholas Thomas, with a set by Adam Belvo, lighting by Chelsie McPhilimy, costumes by Claire Daly, and Xandra Leigh Parker serving as costume assistant.

The Wake of Dorcas Kelly plays July 8-25, Thursdays-Saturdays at 8 pm, and Sundays at 3 pm, at spit&vigor, performing at The Players Theatre, 115 MacDougal Street, NYC. For tickets (priced at $42, for fully vaccinated audience members), go online.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here