By Fanny Charles
Alan Ayckbourn certainly knows how to do Christmas – or rather, he knows how families do Christmas, the rituals, the petty arguments, the things that people say and do when they’ve had too much to drink…
He has explored Christmas as a fertile theme for his biting social comedy on many occasions, but never more successfully than in Season’s Greetings, the December choice for Salisbury’s Studio Theatre.
Directed with an acute eye for detail by Anthony von Roretz – and with great support from the technical team – this story of Christmas with the Bunkers is often laugh-out-loud funny, occasionally touching and constantly skeweringly accurate in its depiction of a dysfunctional family in full festive fig.
There is harassed Belinda (Caroline Butcher), frustrated by the failure of husband Neville (George Goulding) to do anything to help – while endlessly tinkering with his electronic gizmos and gadgets; stressed and pregnant Pattie (Claire Jacobs) and her hapless husband Eddie (Kevin Murdoch), Nev’s best friend; boring doctor Bernard married to Nev’s sister Phyllis (Jill Cowling), whose alcoholism becomes more understandable the more we see of Bernard; frustrated, uptight Rachel (George Cotterill), Belinda’s sister; and appalling right wing armchair warrior Uncle Harvey (Tim Greathead) – and into this happy family comes unsuspecting writer Clive Morris (Adam Barge), invited by Rachel.
It’s just what you need to make you look forward to your own Christmas with the family … or maybe just head for the hills!
Pictured: Caroline Butcher as Belinda and Tim Greathead as horrid Uncle Harvey; © Trinity Photography