Dead City

“Wonderful… Sheila Callaghan’s pleasingly witty and theatrical new drama that is a love letter to New York masquerading as hate mail… [Callaghan] writes with a world-weary tone and has a poet’s gift for economical description. The entire dead city comes alive…” -New York TImes

“DEAD CITY, Sheila Callaghan’s riff on James Joyce’s ULYSSES is stylish, lyrical, fascinating, occasionally irritating, and eminently worthwhile… the kind of work that is thoroughly invigorating.” -Backstage

“Sheila Callaghan surprises with an understandably sprawling but always interesting narrative… It’s an adventurous riff on [ULYSSES] with an especially well-rounded and human character at play’s center… at once realistic and fanciful.” -Variety

“[DEAD CITY] dissects the line between brilliance and just plain ol’ crazy, blurring it even further… impressive.” -Village Voice

“Gutsy… [Callaghan’s] prosaic voiceovers have it right… we glimpse how Joyce’s wanderer once persueded readers that the internal landscape is the one worth exploring.” -TimeOut NY (Critic’s Pick)

“While [ULYSSES] provides the inspiration for this wonderful work, the play stands on its own as a detailed and moving portrait of contemporary life in New York City.” -Theatremania.com

“Joyce would have gone to town with the bizarre sounds and phrases from our internetsoaked, fast-food-stuffed, fifteen-minutes-of-fame world, as the many remarkable scenes in this play show it’s possible to do. There are some storyline parallels with Ulysses, but more important in the inspiration department is the way Callaghan picks up on and makes effective new use of the combination of narrative sincerity and silliness, wonder and cynicism, panorama and detail, that put ULYSSES in a class of its own. DEAD CITY is very different, of course, but the shared underlying engagement with language and the flow of modern life makes it a similarly vibrant and frequently arresting creation.” -Gothamist

“Well-written, original plays are not a regular part of New York’s theatrical landscape. It’s a delightful surprise when one appears, even if it’s a revision of an already published work. Yet it’s dismissive to think of DEAD CITY as just another link in a historical chain. Sheila Callaghan’s play is a unique and completely contemporary bit of magic.” -Offoff Online

“Callaghan’s script provides a fresh and inventive variation on the classic theme of alienation in the big city. Her female characters have a vibrant, tragicomic presence. A compelling ride…” -Showbusiness Weekly

“The play assumes on its own, enchanting logic… as the locations change and the characters flit around town, we arrive at [the characters’] central struggle: being understood in a world in which we are often not heard, or choose not to say what is on our minds. In the end, how they move beyond this emotional stasis will move you, too.” -Downtown Express

“A thrilling theatrical trip…awe-inspiring.” -Flavorpill

“DEAD CITY valiantly succeeds in capturing the random swirl of Joyce’s onerous urban landscape, illustrating how a single day of navigating its perils can be an adventure that reinvigorates the soul…fascinatingly potent.” -Gay City News

“Ambitious… [Callaghan] has a fondness for heightened, poetic language…” -nytheatre.com

“For a hundred minutes, the city becomes like an oyster filled with infinite pearls… Callaghan has created a fluid, lyrical world that riffs on reality as if it were jazz.” -New Theatre Corps

“Outstanding work by Sheila Callaghan… wildly imaginative, and beautifully physical, however uncomfortable… a smartly written, sharp, and witty script.” -Los Angeles Examiner

“Callaghan is not a playwright to dismiss… [she] has real insight and a grasp on modernity – with all its obsessions and melancholiness – that few playwrights harness with such alacrity.” -Chicago Tribune

“Swifter and sexier than Joyce…” -Chicagoist (Top 6 of 2006)

“Weirdly funny and haunting… a jagged stage poem.” -TimeOut Chicago

“Fleet, funny and smart.” -Center Stage Chicago

“…deliciously zany humor and surreal aesthetic… [Callaghan’s] brilliant. ” -The Washington Post

“… surreal, allusive work… haunting, gorgeously realized… funny and weirdly unsettling… ” -Washington City Paper

“Callaghan mixes the real world with the surreal in a manner that keeps the character and the audience off-balance in an interesting fashion. It’s the kind of play where you are not overly surprised when a dead character speaks… Sheila Callaghan is one of the brightest young playwrights on the American scene. The wit and lyrical language in this play are fascinating. ” -DC Theatre Scene

“Callaghan’s work stands on its own….not quite magical realism, but something close to it…there’s no questioning its exuberance. Callaghan’s writing is feverish and bumpy.” -Weekly Dig

“Smartly observed comedy…a poignant and ironic take on midlife.” Star Tribune

“Callaghan is a witty writer, with a fine sense for the desperately absurd.” – TwinCities.com

“What balls! What beauty! Someone give her my number.” -rakemag.com

“Explosions of words, thoughts, lights, sounds and images surge into view, glitter for a moment and then fade to black, readying the stage for the next explosion…exuberant.” -City Beat

“A funky, feminist, 21st-century riff…fun, messy, smart.” -Cincinnati Enquirer

“Deft, poignant and funny.” -Columbus Dispatch


READ AN EXCERPT