Review: AN IRISH CAROL at Keegan Theatre

Being a ghost story of Christmas

By: Dec. 04, 2023
Review: AN IRISH CAROL at Keegan Theatre

Dickens himself started the notion that his 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol, made a great one-man show when he read it aloud to a literary society in Birmingham in 1853. It had already been adapted as a play in London in 1844. There isn't a stick big enough to shake at the number of subsequent adaptations (many movies, musicals, Mr. Magoo, Muppets, Murray as in Bill, Blackadder, Barbie; BARBIE?! 2008. I don't make this stuff up.) Keegan Theatre's 90 minute An Irish Carol by Matthew J. Keenan leaves out most of the supernatural. allegorical, and comic elements in favor of a portrayal of a truly unpleasant Scrooge-type guy, pub-owner David, played with grim vigor by Kevin Adams. He grumps at his customers, which may be why the pub is so empty, growls at his brother, and bullies his barman.

The original Scrooge had a fiancée named Belle who dumped him because he was a young jerk before he became an old fart. (Dickens used more diplomatic word choice.) Keenan (who also designed the detailed and charming set) wisely creates circumstances that parallel Scrooge's bitterness over this incident in his past to be the corresponding trigger which induces David to change. Keenan gives an actor no text with which to reveal the thoughts that get him out of the humbug groove; Adams simply lives through what's happening to David so that it shows on his face (which, by the way, defines the craft of acting): very good theatre--Dickens, well adapted again.

Michael Replogle and Timothy H. Lynch play a couple of regulars (David is lucky to have their custom.) as if the pub were a production of The Irish Odd Couple; their well-executed sparring is fun. Mike Kozemchak as David's brother, Sarah Chapin as Anna, a new customer, Taylor Witt as the patient barkeep, and Mick Tinder as Richard, who married David's ex, each excel in character-revealing turns which Keenan has written with insight and thoroughly 21st century flair. Director Mark A. Rhea ensures that the durable script has clarity. The production keeps Christmas through December 31.

(Photo by Mike Kozemchak)




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