Where Dickens Carol is straightforward and direct in its timeline, an Irish carol’s timeline is non-linear in style and it works well. The writer is a company member and Dublin native Matthew J. Keenan. His version has been a tradition for 9 years running and should remain one for a very long time. As in all the versions, it is Christmas Eve and this specific setting is at a warm, dog-eared bar in Dublin and the pub owner, David (Kevin Adams) is about to embark on a life changing experience with three apparitions.
The Christmas spirit is alive and well…
The difference is that the hauntings takes place in one day instead of three nights, which offers another view of the Dickens story in a familiar Irish setting including the camaraderie, drinking and cursing. The three visitors, a former employee Simon (Josh Sticklin), fiancee Anna (Jessie Power) as well as a former friend Richard (Mick Tinder). The emotions and empathy by the actors really stole the show making each scene real and relatable.
Director Mark A. Rhea and Assistant Director Sheri S. Herren run a tight ship and do a superb job with the production. Their direction utilizes silence as an action, and they fill the empty spaces with mystery, which at times leaves the audience breathless. Set Designer, Matthew J. Keenan and Properties & Set Dressing Designer Cindy Landrum Jacobs, built a wonderful detailed back drop for the scenes which were inviting, formidable and heart-warming. The theater is modest and intimate offering a sense of belonging, it is as if the audience members were enjoying a pint alongside the actors.
The introspection and self-reflection are magnified by taking place all in one night and on one set. The emotional changes that take place are the virtual set changes between the moments of clarity and chaos. This story is more unrefined in the outcome than the Dickens version and more realistic in the nature of reason.
All’s well that ends well; and the curmudgeon does transform his heart once a letter happens upon his path. The change is welcome and life changing. In golf terms, he was given a mulligan. Life does go on with a renewed spirit and a newfound meaning and wealth for the holidays and family. The Christmas spirit is alive and well and as the curtain fell, I could hear a slight voice saying, “God Bless us, everyone,” it may have been my subconscious but pertinent none the less.
Running Time: 90 minutes, with no intermission.
“An Irish Carol” plays through December 31, 2018, at the Keegan Theatre – 1742 Church Street NW, Washington, DC. For tickets, call the box office at (202) 265-3767, or purchase them online.