Thursday 22nd to Saturday 24th November then Wednesday 28th November to Saturday 1st December
Directed by Marion Ward
Half a dozen friends and relatives are celebrating Christmas at Neville and Belinda's suburban home.
Seasons Greetings is a typical Ayckbourn black, though often farcical, comedy about a dysfunctional group of colourful characters caught up in festive mayhem!
It is Christmas Eve in the home of Neville and Belinda Bunker. Belinda's sister Rachel is waiting for her friend, novelist Clive, to arrive for a few days. Heavily pregnant Pattie and her husband Eddie are at loggerheads while in the kitchen Auntie Phyllis's efforts to prepare the dinner are hampered by her drunken and clumsy antics. Her doctor husband Bernard's seasonal highlight is his puppet theatre entertainment and retired security guard Uncle Harvey has a rather unseasonal stash of weapons with him……
Mayhem is quickly unleashed leading to a romantic tryst, an unforgettable puppet show and maybe even a murder …… .Come and watch this comedy festive classic unravel !!!
This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.
|Stage Manager||Alan Ward|
|Assistant Stage Managers||Pete Woodward|
|Lighting/Sound Design||Phil Hanley|
|Lighting Operation||Sally Hartley|
|Sound Operation||Howard Alston|
|Poster/ Flyer Design||Dan Finch, Pete Woodward|
|Set Design||Pete Woodward|
|Front of House||Gina Farmer|
I can't think of a single likeable character in the whole Ayckbourn pantheon - and Season's Greetings is no different. Ayckbourn presents you with a group of unlikeable people in an unpleasant situation and lets them loose - and we, to our shame, laugh ourselves silly at their pain.
Here - unsurprisingly - it's Christmas and Belinda and Neville are celebrating with their extended family. Into the midst of this group comes a stranger who becomes an object of lust to two of the women, and we're off.
First of all - top marks to the company as a whole for managing Ayckbourn's nightmarish dialogue. Rarely does he let a character finish a sentence before being interrupted and each scripted 'Hmm', 'Ah!' or 'Well…' makes the learning of it all the more challenging.
As Belinda, Megan Green gives the finest work I've seen from her in many a year of watching Bench shows. Jeff Bone, too, is on fine form as the interloper and the scene in which she attempts to seduce him is managed beautifully.
Andy Rees and Janice Halsey make a wonderfully mismatched couple and Rees's puppet-show in the second act is joyous. Craig Parker shows expertise in the throwaway line and Mark Wakeman proves, once again, that a comic script is safe in his hands.
You would never want to experience a Christmas like this yourself, but vicariously it makes for an hilarious evening.
James George, The News, November 2018