Season's Greetings (Sheffield)
19 October 2011 WOS Rating: In these chilly, recession-struck times, this gentle, if slightly dated Ayckbourn comedy feels like sinking thankfully into a warm bath. Featuring a middle-class Christmas shared by close friends and family, Season’s Greetings explores how we often miscommunicate with and misunderstand our nearest and dearest, with surprisingly touching, romantic moments along the way.
Once I’d worked out the set (the dividing walls between the three rooms are merely suggested) and the relationship between the nine characters (made harder by the occasional wide discrepancy between the character’s age and that of the actor!), I found much to enjoy here, from puppet shows and looters to bored housewives and handsome strangers.
Christopher Timothy gives a nicely understated performance as Uncle Bernard, while Dennis Lill (as Harvey) pirouettes around the stage with slick grace and perfect timing, and Mathew Bose (as Clive) is suitably awkward as the gauche outsider. Of the females, Sue Wallace as Phyllis contributes a great comic presence, and Barbara Drennan as pregnant Pattie is wonderfully dense but, for me, Jenny Funnell is outstanding, with her beautifully modulated voice (Brrrrrr! as she says on the ads) and subtle portrayal of the repressed spinster Rachel.
As with most Ayckbourn comedies, I felt that many of the issues raised remained under-explored, but these plays remain incredibly popular and this is a fine production of its kind, with chuckles aplenty, if not belly laughs. Like a warm bath, however, for me, it quickly cooled and any comfort gained was relatively short-lived.
- by Sue Casson Related Content Back to Northeast Homepage
Subscribe to our free newsletter
Featured Editor's Picks
X Factor musical titled I Can't Sing!, opens Palladium March 2014 The forthcoming X Factor musical will be called I Can't Sing! The Musical and will premiere at the L... Clint Eastwood on board to direct Jersey Boys film? Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood has reportedly been signed up to direct the film version of Jersey B... Tanzi Libre First things first, it's great to see the Southwark Playhouse open again. Set halfway down New... Michael Coveney: Big Apple bites and Manhattan memories You should always do new things in familiar cities. Over the past few days in New York, I walked a... Donmar stages Nick Payne premiere, Wesker's Roots & Tom Hiddleston in Coriolanus The Donmar Warehouse has announced its new season, which features the premiere of Nick Payne's new p... : Kendal & co in Podcast Relatively Speaking Q&A Last night (21 May 2013), 140 Whatsonstage.com theatregoers attended Relatively Speaking at the West... Kimberley Walsh & Denise Van Outen toast Tointon in 1st Night Photos: Relatively Speaking Strictly Come Dancing stars Kimberley Walsh, Denise Van Outen and Artem Chigvintsev toasted former S... ATG acquires Broadway's largest theatre The Foxwoods, home of Spider-Man In another significant step for transatlantic theatre relations, the UK’s biggest theatre ... Sheila Hancock shows wild side in Video: Barking in Essex trailer As this new trailer reveals, Sheila Hancock has had a dramatic TOWIE-style makeover for her forthcom... : Critics convinced by Review Round-up Relatively Speaking? Lindsay Posner's revival of Alan Ayckbourn's Relatively Speaking opened at the Wyndham's Theatre las...