“A Child’s Christmas in Wales” is a charming memory play

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A Child's Christmas in Wales
Pictured from Left to Right: Clemmie Evans, Amy Hutchins, Fiona Robberson, and Kristen Kittel. Photo by: Avery Brunkus

Don’t miss a heart-warming reminder of Christmases long ago

Isaac Hickox-Young arm reaching into the air and kneeling on the ground.
Pictured: Isaac Hickox-Young. Photo by: Avery Brunkus

The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey in Madison celebrates its return to the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre with A Child’s Christmas in Wales, Dylan Thomas’ memoir of the Christmases of his youth. Thomas’ work has been adapted by Adrian Mitchell and Bonnie J. Monte, the Artistic Director of the Shakespeare Theatre, and directed by Ms. Monte as well. The result is a sweet memory of one particular Christmas in the mid-1920s.

The story covers the events of one Christmas day. The anticipation of presents and the big Christmas feast; the arrival of uncles and aunts and cousins; spending time with friends roaming the town; and being surrounded by warmth, traditions, and abundant love. They are all here and so much more.

The acting ensemble is outstanding. Led by Isaac Hickox-Young’s exuberant Dylan, they bring the Thomas family to vibrant life. Outstanding in the company are Jeff McCarthy and Tina Stafford as Dylan’s parents; Jack Steiner as Dylan’s best friend Jim; the cousins Brenda and Glenda, portrayed by Courtney McGowan and Billie Wyatt, respectively; and Fiona Robberson, radiant yet tinged with sadness as Aunt Elieri.

The set design, for which there is, unfortunately, no credit given in the program, is sparse yet evocative. Various pieces of furniture and a doorway conjure up Dylan’s bedroom, the Thomas house, and other interiors. A small set of chairs, some bushes, and a bench create the local park, while a bare stage save for large snow-covered rocks on either side of a stone wall evokes the seacoast abutting the town of Swansea.

For a heart-warming reminder of Christmases long ago, one that might possibly stir memories of your own, I heartily recommend A Child’s Christmas in Wales. You’ll leave the theatre with the warm feeling of the holiday season, regardless of the holiday you celebrate—and what finer present is that?

The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey presents A Child’s Christmas in Wales at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre on the campus of Drew University in Madison until January 2nd, 2022. Proof of vaccination and a photo ID is required to enter the building, and masks must be worn while inside. For more information or to order tickets, visit shakespearenj.org or call 973-408-5600.

Allen Neuner is the theater reviewer at Out in Jersey magazine. Jersey born and raised, Allen went to his first live play in 1957 and has been deliriously in love with live theater ever since. He works in the box office at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick. He has been partnered to music reviewer Bill Realman Stella, with whom he is also deliriously in love, for over 20 years. They live in an over-cluttered house in Somerville.