Seasons Greetings LogoBy Alan Ayckbourn

This was second non-musical play the group performed, and was the first time we were directed by our own Clare Davies. It was also the first of our two seasonal shows that we have staged to date – the other being Nigel’s ‘A Christmas Carol’.

The play takes place in the house of Neville and Belinda, who have invited friends and relatives to stay for Christmas. Things hot up when Clive, a novelist who has been invited by Belinda’s sister, Rachel, arrives and almost immediately takes a shine to the lady of the house. With Belinda being bored with her ‘stale’ marriage, his attentions are hard to resist. There is also the annual puppet show given by Bernard, the excessively tipsy behaviour of Phyllis, and the uselessness of Eddie to contend with. As well as Uncle Harvey, a retired security expert – who treats the presents under the tree as though they were the crown jewels, and Clive with the utmost suspicion.

Although at one point, outside commitments made it look as though the show may have to be cancelled, the group dug deep and pulled out the goods. Nigel was once again superb as the neurotic, over-powering, knife-wielding, gun-toting Harvey. Mike performed a puppet show to remember, and Clare did admirably to step into the shoes of Patti when someone had to pull out, and combine the role with her directorial duties. We also got an early glimpse of the comedy talents that Cheryl would bring to our stage on so many more occasions. Angie was as solid as ever in the centre of things, and her ‘passionate encounter’ with Steve’s Clive under the Christmas tree was a hoot. Especially when the battery operated drummer-bear almost gave the game away!

 

 

This is Alan Ayckbourn’s second play to deal with Christmas, following the rather brutal treatment of the festivities in his acclaimed play Absurd Person Singular. On the surface, the play deals with a far more traditional Christmas celebration at the home of the Bunkers with all the family gathered around. Of course, this is ripe ground for the playwright, who slowly begins to reveal all the insecurities, tensions and frustrations of the family. The children in the house are seen but not heard, but the adults more than make up for this by practically regressing to their childhoods as the celebrations progress. Alan has said in interviews and programme notes, the play is a reflection of his own family Christmas experiences. The idea of Bernard’s hideous puppet shows is apparently derived from Alan’s own experiences of giving his sons a puppet theatre one Christmas and his attempts to stage a show for them.

More details on Alan Ayckbourn can be found on his official website