A generous helping of humour


A Christmas Carol, Gate Theatre, Dublin Until Jan 23 8pm (Sat/Wed mat 3pm) €30-€35/family ticket €100 01-8744045

It’s no secret that Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carollargely for the cash. But as the author discovered, even a potboiler can have a heart. When Dickens admitted that he laughed and cried over it more than any of his other novels, it seemed that even the author had been caught unawares by the eternal hold of a seasonal classic, one that has shaped our view of Christmas ever since.

The Gate’s trusty revival of John Mortimer’s adaptation, directed by Alan Stanford and first staged 10 years ago here, gets a fifth outing. It’s a fixture of the theatre’s Christmases past, present and, presumably, yet to come, but that doesn’t mean it won’t cheer the hearts of new audiences or appease fans of reassuring regularity.

As Ebenezer Scrooge (Barry McGovern), “a grasping old sinner”, receives his visions of cheerful ghosts and warning spectres that show him the error of his miserly ways (Stephen Brennan times three), his transition from bah- humbugger to shilling-tossing turkey-lover is hard to resist. So is a show with a similar generosity, employing about seven times as many performers as we’re used to seeing in thrifty contemporary productions.

“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour,” finds Scrooge. In that case, the more the merrier.

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