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Tuesday 16 November 2004
Season's Greeting @ The Rep
Written by Clive Fuller, site user
Matthew Kelly and Matthew Cottle
Matthew Kelly and Matthew Cottle

Season's Greetings by Alan Ayckbourn - the UK national tour stops at the Birmingham Rep from 15 - 20 November 2004.

Clive Fuller reviews the show.


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Season's Greetings by Alan Ayckbourn - UK national tour
Birmingham Rep
15 - 20 November 2004

Jason Baughan
Terence Booth
Bill Champion
Matthew Cottle
Liza Goddard
Eliza Hunt
Matthew Kelly
Alexandra Mathie
Alison Pargeter

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A full house at The Rep enjoyed this Alan Ayckbourn Christmas classic with the added bonus of the production being directed by the man himself.

Liza Goddard and Matthew Kelly
Goddard and Kelly

The 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…

Matthew 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.

Liza Goddard and Matthew Cottle
Goddard and Cottle

The 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.

Eliza 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.

Alexandra 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.

The 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.

Written by Clive Fuller

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