THE incredibly prolific Alan Ayckbourn has turned his attention to Christmas with the Family on more than one occasion, and perhaps his funniest play is Season’s Greetings, chosen by Anthony von Roretz and Studio Theatre in Salisbury for the festive show, on stage until 8th December.
Set over three days in the home of Neville and Belinda, the set must encompass the hall, sitting room, dining room, kitchen and top of the stairs.
It all starts at Uncle Harvey watches television, revelling in blood and gore as long-dead actors go through their Christmas paces. Doctor and professional bore Bernard is preparing another dreaded puppet show for Boxing Day, and his wife Phyllis, sister of Neville, is making her traditional drunken way though cooking supper for Christmas Eve.
Neville’s hapless chum Eddie is there with his pregnant wife Pattie and their children, and Belinda’s sister Rachel is waiting for yet another not-quite boyfriend (this time Clive) to arrive on the train.
What could possibly go wrong, as the cliche says.
The strong cast is led by Caroline Butcher’s Belinda, Jill Cowling’s Phyllis, Tim Greathead’s frighteningly right-wing Harvey, George Cotterill’s intense Rachel and Adam Barge’s bemused writer, Clive, with George Goulding as Neville, Alistair Faulkner as Bernard and Kevin Murdoch and Claire Jacobs as Eddie and Pattie.
There are some wonderfully funny moments and some scarily dark humour in this typically Ayckbournian look at the perils of a family gathering. A handful of tickets remains.