Season’s Greetings is the third and final production in Leatherhead Rep Theatre’s three week season. It is only November 20th and I do not really feel ready to launch into the Festive Season yet. Why I wondered have Leatherhead Rep chosen to do this play? In the course of the evening, it becomes clear why they have chosen it: every cast member is perfect for the part they are playing. I could believe that this play was written for them except for the fact that this play was written in 1980.
Christina Cammarota’s clever set design allows the cast of nine to move between several rooms in Neville and Belinda’s (William Hazell and Hannah Brackstone-Brown) house without disappearing behind dividing walls. Plenty of action also takes place off stage, the family’s children are talked about and argued with but never actually appear. The family are gathered at Nev and Bel’s house for Christmas. They are obviously following a very familiar
routine: Bel is decorating the tree, heavily pregnant Pattie (Emma Mulkern) is trying to get her children to go to bed and is not getting any help from her husband Eddie (Vinnie Monachello). Neville’s alcoholic sister Phyllis (Claire Dyson) is cooking the Christmas Eve meal helped by her husband Bernard (Keith Hill). Uncle Harvey (Edmund Dehn) is watching an old film on the telly and discussing how many of the actors are dead. Nev is supposed to be getting everyone a drink but has not been seen for quite a while. Bel’s sister Rachel (Katherine Mount) is expecting a visitor, a young novelist, Clive, (Samuel Lane) who may or may not be her boyfriend. When he arrives he is obviously more attracted to Bel than to Rachel, Bel’s flirting and Rachel’s polite arguing are both darkly funny.
Bel and Clive’s thwarted love scene is hilarious as is the very strange conversation that Phyllis has with Clive when she proudly tells him her husband has sacrificed his career to make her well and asks him to tell her all about English Literature!
Written less than 40 years ago this play seems so old-fashioned: Wives cook and look after children, men mend things and spend most of their time avoiding their wives. Homosexuals are spoken about as if they are another species. The acting is superb and this is a fine finale for the Rep season. Here’s hoping they will be back soon.
Review by Sally Knipe
What could ever go wrong at a family Christmas? As friends and relatives gather at Neville and Belinda’s house to celebrate the festive period, relationships strain and nerves run high.
An unexpected guest, a grumpy uncle with a shotgun and Bernard, intent on performing his puppet show under any circumstances all make for a rip-roaring comedy at just the right time of year.
Writer – Alan Ayckbourn
Director – Guy Slater
Stage Manager – Teresa Barlow,
Lighting Designer – Dan Smith
Set Designer – Christina Cammarota
Graphic Designer – Wayne Dowden
Crew – Martin Garwood, Stan Masters,
Zoe Triantafillou, Shelly Clement, Des Hanreck, Vince Hudson
Harvey – Edmund Dehn
Bernard – Keith Hill
Belinda – Hannah Brackstone-Brown
Pattie – Emma Mulkern
Neville – William Hazell
Eddie – Vinnie Monachello
Rachel – Katherine Mount
Clive – Samuel Lane
Phyllis – Claire Dyson
Seasons Greeting – Leatherhead Rep
Tuesday 20th – Saturday 24th November 2018
by Alan Ayckbourn