Harry’s Christmas – Bewley’s Cafe Theatre – Review

Harry's Christmas

HARRY’S CHRISTMAS by Steven Berkoff

Even if this play is less than one hour in duration and has but a single actor, it is a play which engages the enormity of Christmas with all its predetermined jollity and camaraderie. It is a play which engages the reality of Christmas in societies where practising Christians have become rare birds and in the minority. Malcolm Adams who plays Harry cooped up in his apartment longs at one level to be part of the camaraderie but he is forty years of age, straight and has been unable at any stage of his life to create a relationship of any duration. His aged Mother, who is not that well, is his only social contact and they have desultory occasional telephone conversations. But there is a part of him that wants to participate in the festivities but he is paralysed as to how to go about it. Doubt and indecision are his bible. He is incapable of making up his mind. The play counts down to the big day but its increasing proximity only heightens Harry’s indecisiveness.

The set is the living room of a small flat with a string going across it on which six Christmas cards are hanging. It is five days or so before Christmas and Harry is agonising about whether he will receive any more cards. He is in a maelstrom of angst when the play opens about the hanging of the string. The debate which Harry has with himself about how to hang the cards and what the non-existent friends are going to say or think is comedy of a high order. Gradually the comedy diminishes as the fact comes to be realised by Harry that six Christmas cards will be his lot. Harry’s options diminish as his indecisiveness uses up time in which to organise himself. Malcolm Adams has the challenge of keeping the audiences’ hopes alive as the choices become ever smaller. It is a bleak message which Harry delivers. He encapsulates the horrors of the season for those who are excluded from it and Malcolm Adams rises to the occasion of playing this unheroic role.

Berkoff’s play is timely to be produced in the run up to christmas and Malcom Adams creates enough smiles and even laughs so that the underlying sadness is to an extent alleviated. The play is  a good antidote to a great deal of the Christmas schmaltz that is being pedalled commercially to us all. Merry Christmas!

HARRY’S CHRISTMAS by Steven Berkoff
Dec 01 – 20, 2014 | 1pm (doors at 12.50pm)

Review by Frank L

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