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Theatre trip: The Holly and The Ivy

My recent relationship with Malvern Theatre is a bit like Samuel Johnson’s description of a second marriage: “A triumph of hope over experience”. I don’t think I’ve had a totally satisfactory or wholly enjoyable trip there since before Christopher died. I suspect that’s partly down to me – I’m hardly finding life a bundle of fun at the moment – but I keep persevering. Partly because it gets me out of the house at the weekends, but mostly because going to the theatre used to be an important part of our lives, and I don’t want to give all that up.

I tried again yesterday, going to the matinĂ©e of “The Holly and The Ivy”. It was a play I didn’t know at all, set in a vicarage in a small country town on Christmas Eve / Christmas Day 1947. It centred around an elderly, recently widowed vicar, whose family gathered for Christmas  – including some very difficult aunts, a long-suffering daughter, a slightly unsatisfactory son, and a heavy-drinking prodigal daughter who was a fashion journalist in London and rarely came home. Cue lots of soul-searching, home-truths, debates about love vs duty, and secrets hidden for years.

At 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 each other. However, there was rather too much harping on about bereavement and grief for my current mood so I didn’t enjoy it as much as I’d hoped. I could really have done with something rather lighter. But it was very well done, and probably one of the best plays I’ve seen there this year.

{ 1 } Comments

  1. Catriona | 5 December 2011 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    Hi Gillian,
    Your theatre reviews are very useful for both Malvern and London as many of the plays transfer to the West End after Malvern. It’s great to have such down to earth comments, eg about the audibility of the actors, as there is nothing more annoying than not being able to hear a play!