Christmas Eve Can Kill You | Theatre Review
The Lyric Theatre • Show runs until 10 January ’16
There’s a lot to like about Christmas Eve Can Kill You. Marie Jones has written a play which is filled to the brim with nostalgia and is firmly rooted in the place and time it was set. It plays like a familiar show you’ve seen a hundred times with charming characters all having typical Belfast banter as the tangential plot unfolds. This gives the whole production a warm and welcoming feeling which is appropriate for the festive season; a good humoured adult solution to the pantomime problem.
The play follows an evening in the life of a Belfast taxi driver Mackers (Tim Loane). It’s Christmas eve. Everyone is getting into the festive spirit and carrying out their Christmas traditions, parties or last minute tasks. Mackers is an onlooker on the resulting drama of the various people he encounters during the course of the evening. The perspective of a taxi driver is engaging at first; the format allows for a brief view into the lives of his customers and provides variation and a good pace to the whole production. In saying this, however, towards the end of the play as the various different plot lines resolve it begins to feel a bit like there’s too much being crammed in. There are speeches from characters towards the end that present themselves as being important to illuminating the message at the core of the play which could’ve easily been picked out of the abstract by the viewer with greater effect. Due to this, the pace suffers slightly but there are some really heart warming moments alongside hilarious scenarios and outcomes for the characters towards the end that are enough to carry your attention through to the end.
One aspect of the production that contributes to its whole sense of nostalgia is its use of Northern Irish humour and the colourful characters who enact it. There are strong performances from the six members of the supporting cast who all play several different roles throughout. Dan Gordon is the star of the show in all of the roles that he plays. His energy, knowledge and sense of humour contribute a lot to the overall charm of the production. We really need this strong presence from our leading man Loane who is just short of the mark on delivery of this vital character at points, the result being a lack of sympathy by the end of the show when Mackers has an unfortunate end.
Despite all of these issues I would say that this play really seemed to strike a chord with the audience who were responsive and laughed heartily throughout. Some of the jokes are a little outdated and it’s so place specific at points that I would say that there are a wide range of people to whom a lot of the gags would fall flat altogether, but it’s a good show for those who are in on the joke. I wouldn’t say that it’s a play for everyone but based on the reception and the standing ovation at the end, I could quite confidently say that most were entertained and got value for their money. It’s a nice way to spend an evening to get into the Christmas spirit!