Alan Ayckbourn’s Season’s Greetings at Manor Pavilion Theatre, Sidmouth

James Pellow as Uncle Harvey. Picture: Alex Marker

James Pellow as Uncle Harvey. Picture: Alex Marker - Credit: Archant

One of Alan Ayckbourn’s most-loved plays, Season’s Greetings, comes to the Manor Pavilion Theatre this month.

Dan March as Neville. Picture: Alex Marker

Dan March as Neville. Picture: Alex Marker - Credit: Archant

It is a black comedy about four days in the life of a dysfunctional family, starting on Christmas Eve.

Ayckbourn is a master observer of the foibles and flaws of human beings, and their relationships with one another.

In Season's Greetings he draws on a situation in which family and friends feel compelled to spend intensive time together, whether they like it or not, in an atmosphere of forced jollity.

Belinda, played by Eva-Jane Willis, becomes increasingly strained as she tries to maintain harmony amongst her warring family.

James Pellow as Uncle Harvey. Picture: Alex Marker

James Pellow as Uncle Harvey. Picture: Alex Marker - Credit: Archant

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There is her neglectful husband Neville (Dan March), the hapless Bernard (Jeremy Todd) with his annual puppet show, his alcoholic wife Phyllis (Claire Louise Amias), and nasty Uncle Harvey (Sidmouth favourite James Pellow) with his disturbing arsenal of weaponry.

They are joined by the terminally disappointed Rachel (Bridget Lambert) and an unhappy couple, Eddie (Thomas Willshire) and his pregnant wife, Pattie (Rosie Edwards).

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Into the Yuletide mayhem walks writer, Clive (John Hastings), whose presence serves only to arouse some rather disruptive passions.

James Pellow said: "Uncle Harvey is an unpleasant, vindictive man - a nasty piece of work, really.

"You have to wonder why he's spending Christmas with the family at all.

"His mindset is stuck firmly in the past.

"Playing such a character is challenging - making him believable and, at the same time, comical".

The play is produced and directed by the veteran director of the Summer Play Festival, Claire Evans.

She has directed Ayckbourn twice for the summer season, Absent Friends and Relatively Speaking.

She and the Manor Pavilion's Graham Whitlock decided to see if there was an appetite for high quality professional theatre in November, after summer show audience members said how much they missed the plays during the winter months.

"We chose Season's Greetings because of the popularity of Ayckbourn and because of its seasonal theme," she said.

The play runs from Wednesday, November 20, until Saturday, November 30. There is no performance on Sunday, November 24.

To book tickets visit the theatre's website or call the box office on 01395 514 413.

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