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