An Irish Carol does a fine job capturing the spirit and message of Charles Dickens’ classic holiday tale in an evening spent in an Irish pub. No small feat.
The play, courtesy of author Matthew J. Keenan, is not a direct retelling of A Christmas Carol (and that’s a good thing, as the stage has no shortage of those). But it does draw on the themes of redemption, heartfelt flashes from the past, and the triumph of generosity over miserliness.
There’s one thing that sets An Irish Carol apart from your average holiday fare: the way it manages to capture the rhythm and the chatter of a typical night shared at a local between longtime guests – the easy intimacy between them, the allusions made to the years of bonds forged there (the show’s transporting, detail-oriented set, designed by the playwright, helps here too). It’s fun to witness the joking affinity between Jim and Frank, and to see how the pair plays off goodhearted bartender, Bartek.
This pub may not be the cheeriest one Ireland’s ever seen, especially with pre-awakening David behind the bar, but An Irish Carol still makes its audience long for that kind of special rapport that only regulars can have with each other.