Season's Greetings

Written by Alan Ayckbourn, Directed by Nikolai Foster
Liverpool Playhouse, 8th December 2005-21st January 2006

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

There was not much festive fun watching this play - written by Alan Ayckbourn, and directed by Nikolai Foster - which brutally illustrated the shallow mega-hype of Christmas.

It concerns a family get together over the 1980 Yuletide period and the bitching and bickering that takes place.

I found it hard going watching actors portray boring no-hopers flung together in a confined space. As a consequence I endured a fairly uninspired evening, only lightened by a hilarious puppet show routine by Uncle Bernard (Ian Bartholomew), which featured a completely inept version of The Three Little Pigs.

The pathetic soul-searching of some of the characters - notably the sexually-starved Rachel (Penny Layden) with her complex reasons why she does not go to bed with men - and the lovelorn wife Belinda (Samantha Giles) of regular guy Neville (Philip Bretherton) who takes their marriage for granted - proved difficult to emphasise with. A number of these scenes seemed to drag on interminably....

The conclusion of the play produced an unexpected twist concerning the mad Harvey (Colin Prockter) - who wants children to learn how to shoot guns, and Rachel's novel writer ‘boyfriend’ Clive (Stuart Laing), who has a crush on Belinda and is constantly badgered by members of the family to “put this in your next book” after some inconsequential occurrence.

One point I have to make. If actors are going to adopt a scouse accent, please stick to it throughout the play. It got annoying, especially with Belinda, who kept slipping in and out of her not very accurate rendition of the Liverpool tongue.

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