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Theatre trip: Season’s Greetings

Yesterday I went to the matinée performance of Alan Ayckbourn’s 1980s Christmas classic,  Season’s Greetings. It seems to come around every few years, and I’d seen it before with Christopher, so I thought I’d enjoy it. I had forgotten just how black the comedy is in this particular play. It is an uncompromising portrait of a severely dysfunctional family – including alcoholism, implied domestic violence, loveless marriages, sibling rivalry, deep-seated personal failures on many levels, adultery and madness, and culminates in an attempted murder.

Because it was an Ayckbourn classic, the theatre was full, with coach parties from all over the Three Counties. Even though I bought my ticket weeks ago, it was so busy that I could only get a seat about ten rows back from where I normally like to sit. That wasn’t a problem from the point of view of seeing the stage – Malvern Theatre is very well laid out and the sight-lines are excellent from the whole auditorium. But I found it hard to hear what was going on. The actors were pretty much all TV soap stars, from Eastenders, The Royal, Emmerdale etc, and most of them seemed to have forgotten the core competence of a stage actor – the ability to project their voices to the back of the auditorium. Christopher Timothy, in particular, spoke so quietly that I strained to hear him. The old dears surrounding me, who had travelled from miles away, could hardly hear a thing, even with their hearing aids turned up to maximum. They spent the interval trying to work out what was going on, and it was obvious from their discussions that they had missed most of the dialogue. The old woman four seats to my right heard so little of the first half that she fell asleep after the first scene, and her gentle snores made it even harder for her friends to follow the speeches!

So all in all, it wasn’t a particularly successful trip to the theatre. I was in a bleak mood anyway, as my heavy cold is making me feel pretty miserable. I did laugh aloud at some of the set pieces which were genuinely funny, but overall I cringed more than laughed.

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  1. […] least this time, in contrast to the Ayckbourn I went to a few weeks ago, the characters were all sympathetic people and actually seemed to like and support […]