Directed by Phil Amor
5-8th December, 2012, Felpham Village Hall
Alan Ayckbourn’s hilarious and often poignant twist on a family Christmas.
Concerns the antics of three married couples, a loopy Uncle, an unmarried sister and her visiting writer friend – all staying together over Christmas – provide all the ingredients one could need for a very funny play
Christmas at Belinda and Neville’s house with Neville’s sister Phyllis and her husband Bernard, a doctor whose annual puppet shows are dreaded by young and old alike, Uncle Harvey, a slightly senile retired security guard and a television-addict; Neville’s friend Eddie and his pregnant wife Pattie,
Belinda’s unmarried sister Rachel and her invited friend Clive a writer whose attention and interest soon wanders to one of the married sisters.
A clandestine love scene under the Christmas Tree amongst the Christmas presents which goes terribly wrong, a disastrous epic puppet show, the cooking and Christmas games provide rich opportunities for humour.
But nice light and shade too with poignant and moving reflections on failure in relationships.
The Regis Players
Reviewed by: Cindy Curtis
Venue: Felpham Village Hall
Type of Production: Play
Director: Philip Amor
It is Christmas Eve and Belinda is trimming the tree, the family have arrived, including a heavily pregnant Pattie – will there be a Christmas baby? Food is being prepared and a special guest is expected; there is even an elderly relative stuck in front of the TV, and talk of a puppet show for the children: all the ingredients necessary for a traditional family Christmas. But this is an Alan Ayckbourn play and there is tension beneath the tinsel; Uncle Harvey is obsessed with guns and violent films, Neville spends most of his time tinkering ineffectually with broken toys, Pattie turns out to be more of a nag than a Madonna, and the arrival of a famous writer begins the descent into yuletide chaos when Belinda is immediately attracted to him.
There are some marvelous drunken slapstick moments in this play, and some very bad behavior under the Christmas tree, but there is poignancy as well as hilarity when the puppet show inevitably goes wrong and Bernard’s forlorn face reveals years of disappointment and failure.
The Regis Players have done themselves proud with this production. Peter Green’s clever and sympathetic portrayal of the unsuccessful doctor Bernard, and Liz McNally’s brittle and terribly believable Belinda were the highlights for me, but all the cast were excellent, as usual.