WE’RE in suburbia and Marion is raving about Jane’s brave new kitchen. She’s been invited to a Christmas Eve drinks party hosted by Jane and her ambitious husband, Sidney. Welcome to the world of Alan Ayckbourn.
A world in which the men are invariably heartless and uncaring, often oblivious or completely detached from the plight of their wives.
This play, first performed in 1972, shows its age, particularly in the way the men and women interact with each other. It’s set in three flats over three consecutive Christmas Eves and festive jollity is in short supply.
Especially in the second act, in which poor Eva takes centre stage while being completely ignored by those who think they’re helping her by engaging in trivial pursuits - and I’m not referring to the popular board game.
This play doesn’t really develop for me to the extent I would like it to but, that said, director Kathy Searcy’s well conceived production perfectly captures the spirit, the light and dark that’s a trademark of this celebrated and respected writer’s work.
You can forgive the fact that the first act is rather repetitive, for the cast of Graham Simmonds (Sidney), Ros Greenwood (Jane), Simon Garland (Ronald), Laura Chandler (Marion) and Matthew Foster (Geoffrey) work hard to bring their characters to life. There’s also an impressive debut from Kim Armstom to enjoy.
The second act will have you laughing while at the same time feeling guilty at what you’re laughing at, as Eva teeters on the brink.
Until December 1. The box office is on 0161 928 1677. Star rating - *** Photo by Vish Sharma