Now in its seventh year, the Keegan Theatre’s annual production of Matthew J. Keenan’s An Irish Carol has become a favorite Washington DC holiday tradition. It’s easy to see why. A quintessentially Irish take on Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol, Keenan’s play offers a holiday-perfect tale of redemption and the power of love.
All joie de vivre seems to have been scrubbed clean from the crotchety David, proprietor of the Dublin pub in which the play takes place. He lumbers around the bar like a wounded and angry bear, trodden by his memories and buried in his make-work. Played once again by the esteemed Kevin Adams, David communicates as much by his defeated posture and haunted silences as by the cold commands he issues to his Polish barman, Bartek. Yet, however expressionless his face, Adams wisely refuses to erase the pain that emanates from David’s eyes.
It is always a treat to see fine performances in the lovely Keegan Theatre, and this production is no exception. Playwright Keenan, who also designed the set, is aided admirably by Cindy Landrum Jacobs’ set dressing and properties design, Kelly Peacock’s costumes, Dan Martin’s lighting design and Jake Null’s sound design, which provides constant reminders of the cold and frigid night that rages outside of the pub’s front door. It’s no wonder that each of the characters seeks solace and understanding within the pub’s solid walls. We’d all do well to linger in David’s pub awhile, reminding ourselves of what is important in life.