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TRCH David Suchet

Theatre Review: Season's Greetings at Lace Market Theatre

13 December 19 words: Becki Crossley

Written in the early 1980s by Alan Ayckbourn and set over the festive holidays, Season's Greetings captures the traditional nightmare of a busy family Christmas...

The calamity is fast-paced with often two or three interactions happening between different
characters across the stage, in a way that seamlessly creates the element of a bustling
family household without having the actors constantly talking over each other.

Every actor on stage is spot-on in their portrayals of the festive family archetypes – the
ignored wives, the neglectful husbands, the token bigoted uncle. It’s not hard to fall into the
world of the Bunker family Christmas, getting swept along with every tense conversation or
personality clash.

The impeccably-timed direction by Peter Konowalik and convincing performances by the
entire cast are almost good enough to make you forget that Ayckbourn’s story itself leaves a
lot to be desired.

While everything that happened may have been an accurate portrayal of the seemingly
never-ending holiday period, that doesn’t necessarily mean its enjoyable to sit and watch
every second of it. Not to mention the homophobic undertones of judgement against one of
the characters that’s played for laughs – though it might well be reflective of its setting in a
‘traditional’ 1980s household, it adds nothing to a performance in 2019.

The first act is a slow but steady build with scattered comedy elements, the final scene in
particular leaving the audience in fits of laughter – a testament to Arwen Makin (Belinda)
and Steve Mitchell’s (Clive) chemistry and comedic timing.

However, these are not quite strong enough to smooth over the quite jarring disconnect
between husbands and wives, parents and (unseen) children – plot points that are in the
end, never resolved. Ayckbourn’s style of comedy is as familiar as it is funny, but by skating
over darker topics of loveless marriages and unwanted children, without reconciliation it
leaves little to hope for.

Of the eight characters, only one experiences any kind of resolution to their personal arc, or
appears to have learned anything at all. Of course, not everything needs to be wrapped up
as neatly as the presents under the tree, but when the final scene finishes there are still so
many things up in the air, with no hint of better things to come in the new year.

The non-ending is not just unsatisfying, but if any audience members see themselves in any
of these characters, they may be left feeling a little empty.

Season’s Greetings is on at Lace Market Theatre until Saturday 14 December.
Lace Market Theatre website

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