Enjoy watching family and friends celebrate Christmas for the umpteenth consecutive year.
Except not all is peace and harmony as the cracks quickly start to emerge.
Featuring the annual, excruciating, puppet show, drunken snakes and ladders, the rifling of Christmas presents – and that’s just the start.
Join us for this comedy. The perfect way to start Christmas!
More photos below.
Clive Robert Hall
Harvey Del Stone
Pattie Alice London
Neville Peter Atkinson
Belinda Jackie Dowse
Phyllis Simone Thorn
Bernard Mark Storey
Rachel Sanchia Leddy
Eddie Geoff Dillon
Director Paul Marshall
Stage Director John Heather
Set design & decor Adrian Pope
Lighting Designer Andrew Herbert
Sound Designer Ian James
Set construction John Heather & T62 crew
Puppet Theatre design Ray Harris
Puppet Theatre construction Andrew Heather
Puppet Maker Jackie Dowse
Special Effects Andrew Heather
Stage Manager Sally Guttridge
Asst Stage Manager Ann Herbert
Stage Crew Hazel Imber, Hayley Norton
Technical Assts Jon Lewis, Danny McIIhiney, James Quinn
Props Sally Guttridge, Ann Herbert
Wardrobe Joan Martin, Ellie Garcia, Hazel Hall, Valerie Polydorou, Diana Quinn
Prompt Margaret Uzzell
House Manager John Heather
Refreshments Audrey Knighton
Raffle Heather London
Box Office Nina James
Poster/Programme Editor Graham Copeland
Programme Editor John Guttridge
Croydon Advertiser review by Peter Steptoe:
“Alan Ayckbourn wrote more than one play about Christmas and I have always had some reservations about this one, though in fairness it does contain great comic moments. His writing is not as witty as Coward’s but his observations on middle class angst are both accurate and funny.
There are three married couples in this dysfunctional household with two other relatives and a guest who is a one book author. Belinda (Jackie Dowse) is the frustrated housewife, whose chief recreation seems to be decorating the Christmas tree and has a shed occupying husband devoted to repairing things that go wrong. Peter Atkinson as husband Neville gave the part the absentmindedness it required, yet indicated he could be ruthless in business. Belinda got the hots for the visiting author Clive (Robert Hall) and the comic seduction scene was beautifully played, ably assisted by the subdued lighting which reduced any disparity in the ages.
Harvey, uncle to Neville and Belinda, had many of the comic lines and was still relevant today as the type of person who takes the law into his own hands. It was a shock to eventually realise how cruel he was and Del Stone made the most of him. His chief victim was the incompetent doctor Bernard played by Mark Storey as a sort of male spinster. He seemed to have the face to go with it, together with the ability to time a comic line. His scene showing his incompetence with his puppet show was masterly and he was assisted in this by the very pregnant Pattie (Alice London) whose own incompetence had been carefully rehearsed.
Director Paul Marshall kept a smart pace with the entrances and exits well timed and the cast’s ensemble playing excellent. I am not sure whether Ayckbourn became uncertain with his less attractive characters because it was essential that we did not dislike them. Phyllis (Simone Thorne) the Doctor’s wife did not seem to accord with his description of her before she appeared, incompetent off yet assertive when on. Rachel, (Sanchia Leddy) Belinda’s unmarried sister was definitely neurotic and as Clive’s secretary wished to become involved. Eddie (Geoff Dillon) as one of life’s failures came across as quite uncaring with regard to his pregnant wife yet his inadequacy failed to ignite our sympathy. Clive the author was like the curate’s egg, good in parts. It was a difficult part to play and to be shot at the end and declared dead by the incompetent doctor was trouble enough for anyone.
The ending I have often wondered about; was it because Ayckbourn had run out of ideas? The ending on dimmuendo was in complete contrast to the climatic frenzy of the interval break.