Seasons Greetings

Written by Alan Ayckbourn

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!

AuthorAlan Ayckbourn

Alan Ayckbourn

2018 marks Alan Ayckbourn's 57th year as a theatre director and his 59th as a playwright. Alan Ayckbourn is one of the most prolific and widely performed of living English language playwrights and a highly regarded theatre director. He has written 80 full length plays and has won Olivier, Tony and Molière Awards for his work.

Ayckbourn was born in Hampstead and wrote his first play at prep school when he was about 10. After leaving school at 17, he began a temporary job at the Scarborough Library Theatre. In 1957, he married Christine Roland, another member of the company, and his first two plays were written jointly with her under the pseudonym of "Roland Allen". They had two sons, however the marriage had difficulties which eventually led to their separation in 1971. Neither he nor Christine sought a divorce for the next thirty years and it was only in 1997 that they formally divorced after which Ayckbourn married Heather Stoney.

In 1962 he became Associate Director of the Victoria Theatre Stoke-on-Trent and two years later he was a Radio Drama Producer for the BBC in Leeds. Ayckbourn established himself as a popular playwright in the the 1960s achieving West End successes with 'Relatively Speaking' and 'How The Other Half Loves' In the 70s he returned to Scarborough as the Director of Productions.

In 2007, following a stroke he announced he would step down from his role as Artistic Director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre. Ayckbourn, however, continues to write and direct his own work at the theatre and in 2009, his contribution to theatre was recognised by the Olivier's Special Award.

Seasons Greetings was first performed in 1980. Since then there have been numerous revivals. In 2010 it was Ayckbourn's first play to be published digitally.

PlaySeasons Greetings

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 !!!

The Bench Production

Seasons Greetings poster image

This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.


BelindaMegan Green
NevilleAndrew Caple
PattieJulie Wood
EddieCraig Parker
BernardAndy Rees
PhyllisJanice Halsey
CliveJeff Bone
RachelClaire Lyne
HarveyMark Wakeman


Director Marion Ward
Producer Sally Hartley
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
Programme Derek Callam
Set Design Pete Woodward
Front of House Gina Farmer
Photography Sharman Callam


The NewsJames George

Perhaps just the tiniest bit early, Bench Theatre's latest offering at The Spring is Alan Ayckbourn's Season's Greetings.

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

Production Photographs