house at The Rep enjoyed this Alan Ayckbourn Christmas classic with
the added bonus of the production being directed by the man himself.
Goddard and Kelly
play picks away at the problems of family relationships and gets
to the very heart of the stresses of bringing people together for
the festive season. We all know what that's like
Kelly (Uncle Bernard) is the bumbling failure, a washout as a doctor
and a poor puppeteer to boot. His scene of the rehearsal for the
puppet show and the ensuing chaos brought the house down and his
partner on stage, Alison Pargeter (the heavily pregnant Pattie)
was hilarious. She was so still on stage to start with that she
appeared almost marionette-like. And who could ever forget the grand
finale at the hands of the manic Uncle Harvey.
Goddard and Cottle
always stylish Liza Goddard caught in a midnight fling under the
Christmas tree and fairy lights with Matthew Cottle (writer Clive)
was superb and played being on the emotional edge elegantly and
beautifully. Terence Booth's character (Uncle Harvey) although first
amusing turns out to be a highly dangerous and unhinged individual
whose past work as a security officer wrecks any chance of a Merry
Christmas and ultimately ends tragically.
Hunt plays Bernard's wife Phyllis superbly and who cannot recognise
the harassed cook caught in the kitchen tippling the drink and playing
the martyr for the whole evening. She also makes a good go of a
pass at Matthew Cottle, (author Clive) the writer of just one book
and an apparent favourite with the ladies. Cottle makes the most
of this role and has an air of disbelief at what is unfolding.
Mathie plays left-on-the-shelf literary secretary Rachel to perfection
and one knows she just isn't going to get her man this Christmas.
The boring husbands who repair toys at Christmas are Bill Champion
(Neville) and Jason Baughan (Eddie) both archetypal Ayckbourn men
for whom DIY or a shed in the garden have become a refuge from any
risk of emotional interaction. Brilliant.
whole production is attractive and well set with excellent lighting
and clarity of sound. Now, almost 25 years on, Season's Greetings
remains just as fresh as when it was originally presented at Scarborough
and should do very well especially as audiences will probably recognise
something of their own families in the characters.
by Clive Fuller
a BBC Birmingham reviewer »