The fear of seeing this adaptation of Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol, for a Cavan audience was that a few local jokes would be crowbarred into the well-defined structure of the play. As it turned out the highlight of the dark comedy 'Scrooge & Marley: A Cavan Christmas Carol’, penned by Philip Doherty and Kevin McGahern came with the most Cavan-centric moment of the play. The Ghost of Christmas Present - a reincarnation of Brendan Behan - took the reluctant Scrooge on stroll through the streets of Cavan Town.
The folksy, knowingly hammed up Oirish delivery of the monologue by the tremendous, drink swilling Paddy Sheanon, didn’t make it any less affecting. At times hilarious, others scathing, the affection for this wonderful, yet flawed county town was clear from the beautiful lyrical writing.
It was stunning and memorable. The show was worth going to for this monologue alone, but thankfully there was much more to delight in besides.
In this Townhall Cavan production, Scrooge, excellently played by Louth actor Keith James Walker, is reimagined as an irascible, penny-pinching Cavan Town publican. After a slowish start, where Scrooge’s objections to Christmas, were laid out a little laboriously, the play swiftly found its feet with the arrival of the ghost of Christmas Past. All the bah-humbuggery was necessary for the pay-off as Scrooge’s words are inevitably thrown back in his gradually enlightened face.
The depths of his miserliness was best displayed in a hilarious scene with Aimee O’Reilly as a Cavan Lions charity collector falling victim to his acerbic tongue. Thanks to one of the best jokes, we’ll all be mindful of any barman serving 7Up from a plastic bottle from now on.
Another show grabber from the huge, and generally great cast, was the performance of the New York nightclub transvestite dame, Fezziwig, played by Malachy McKeever. Dressed in something from Dangerous Liaisons, Scrooge’s cocaine-snorting first boss was paraded shoulder high by a variety of flamboyant revellers - it was a visually gaudy treat. Other notable performances include Ray Reilly as barfly Tanker, Liz Doonan as Babs Cratchit, Darren Lynch as Scrooge’s nephew and Johnny Binchy as Marley.
Another amazing scene near the climax sees demonic figures showing Scrooge his bleak future in grim detail, and it makes you wonder if this is the only theatre company in Ireland who could convincingly stage a full blown horror.
It seems there’s nothing the Townhall crew can’t do, and they’ve proved it again.
Scrooge and Marley: A Cavan Christmas Carol takes place at Townhall Cavan Arts Space on Wednesday 28th and Thursday, 29th December at 8pm. Tickets €15. This show contains strong language and is not suitable for under 12s. Book online at townhallcavan.yapsody.com.