Review: AN IRISH CAROL at The Keegan Theatre

The production runs from December 10th through 31st

By: Dec. 12, 2021
Review: AN IRISH CAROL at The Keegan Theatre
L-R Kevin Adams, Mike Kozemchak, and Josh Stocklin in The Keegan Theatre's production of An Irish Carol. Photo courtesy of the production.

Matthew J. Keenan's An Irish Carol is an interesting updated take on Charles Dickens' classic, A Christmas Carol, with entertainingly colorful language and a heart-warming message through it all. This show explores the original story through the lens of a Scrooge-like Irish pub owner who learns that it's not too late to turn his life around. Keenan's humor and passion for this story shines through his clever writing - giving us a realistic and refreshing spin on the classic.

To set the mood of the season, I was first welcomed into the theatre by an impressive stage design and Christmas music playing as well. It was apparent there was lots of detail put into this set and I enjoyed scanning through each little piece as I waited for the performance to begin. Having the show set in basically one day and one place, made for an easy design plan, but no detail went untouched and much thought was clearly put into it. From the beer dispensers behind the counter to the carefully hidden Christmas lights scattered among the decorations on top of the pub, I loved the subtlety of each intentional piece and prop placed on stage.

Review: AN IRISH CAROL at The Keegan Theatre
Dave Jourdan in The Keegan Theatre's production of An Irish Carol. Photo courtesy of the production.

When it comes to casting for this production, the theatre certainly did not miss. I found myself laughing many times and also feeling the emotions portrayed through this talented group of people. Not only from reading the cast bios but from the performance I witnessed, it is clear that these actors are seasoned professionals who truly care for this production. Kevin Adams' performance in the main role of David definitely set the stage for how impressive the rest of the show was going to be. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing how he showed the character's reluctance to change, but also showed the progression of character development at the same time. His exhibition of both grumpiness and sorrow came together and transformed by the end of the performance in a captivating capacity. It was apparent his acting skills struck the audience, specifically when he got the stage to himself, and it was wonderful to see him take on this role.

While every actor gave a rousing performance, the two that stood out the most to me were Dave Jourdan as Jim and Timothy H. Lynch as Frank. These two actors both played off each other so comfortably while also making their characters stand out individually. Jourdan's take on Jim as the big-hearted, insightful, kind friend to each person in the pub made him instantly a top character of mine. I enjoyed watching him give this caring personality to the character and, frankly, wished he was on stage longer. With his counterpart, Lynch, as Frank - the drunken, friendly, regular pub-goer, provided comic relief for most of the show, but also revealed a more melancholy side to him as well. Perhaps, the reason he is a regular at the pub. The way Lynch expressed this character, only to reveal a different side of him towards the end of his stage time, showed great complexity that this actor was able to portray so well. I had fun watching both performances of these two talented gentlemen and I feel that they were crucial to the storyline hinting at David's past, present, and future - in typical Christmas Carol fashion.

Review: AN IRISH CAROL at The Keegan Theatre
Timothy H. Lynch in The Keegan Theatre's production of An Irish Carol. Photo courtesy of the production.

Another performance worth mentioning was Josh Sticklin as Bartek. Bartek is a Polish worker in David's pub, who spends his Christmas Eve learning about his boss's past. Sticklin's performance gave Bartek a light-hearted, curious, and sympathetic personality - alluding to the character, Bob Cratchit, from the classic. I enjoyed watching him give his character a youthful personality, dictating a large contrast between him and his boss. But he also never loses respect for David - only provides sympathy and understanding for him. Along with the Bob Cratchit analogy, I thought it was very intelligent of Matthew Keenan for writing Bartek's daughter to have autism - most likely relating to Tiny Tim. The treatment of Bartek was also an indicator of how David was transforming over the course of the story, and Sticklin reacted purposefully each time. This character was a young breath of fresh air in the old pub with Sticklin's enjoyable performance.

I was pleased with the rest of the cast as well - playwright Matthew Keenan (Simon), Mike Kozemchak (Michael), Jessie Power (Anna), and Michael Replogle (Richard), all gave impressive performances that truly brought this story to life. Each actor participated in the message of redemption through portrayals of friendship, disagreement, and understanding.

Review: AN IRISH CAROL at The Keegan Theatre
Josh Stocklin in The Keegan Theatre's production of An Irish Carol. Photo courtesy of the production.

I'm grateful I was able to see the theatre's 11th season of this show and I understand why it continues performances each year. It's a great kickoff to the Christmas season as it will not only make you laugh, but also gives you the opportunity to think about your life and reflect on this time of year.

Running Time: 90 minutes with no intermission.

An Irish Carol runs through December 31, 2021 at The Keegan Theatre which is located at 1742 Church St NW, Washington, DC. For tickets, click here.