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Compton Players - Season's Greetings

27th to 30th November 2013.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Compton's Christmas cracker

Compton Players: Season's Greetings, at the Coronation Hall, Compton, from Wednesday, November 27 to Saturday, November 30

I often think the reason Alan Ayckbourn's plays are so universally popular is because we see ourselves and our friends and families in all those comic lines and awkward situations.

Everyday things like the husband who can't understand why it is so important for his wife to have him pour her drink, rather than the willing volunteer. The frustrated wife who can't persuade her husband to go for a walk with the kids and her even though he promised to go earlier, and the special guest who tries to stay peacefully in the background but can't avoid having his girlfriend in floods of tears, even though he has no idea what has upset her.

Compton Players' production flowed steadily along at an ideal medium pace with some strong performances by Pete Watt as Neville, Brenda Prior as Phyllis, Mandy Clark as Rachel and Andrew Alexander and Naomi Read as Eddie and his wife Patti.

Phil Prior, as the unfortunate author Clive, underplayed nicely as a man putting up with hysterics one minute and a clumsy seduction attempt the next.

There were three very special performances but it should be noted that these actors had both the best parts and the best lines. Jenni Collins was most impressive as Belinda, the frustrated wife of Neville, and Eric Saxton, as Uncle Harvey, relished his role as a grumpy, sarcastic and very funny old boy, who drives everybody mad.

Best of all perhaps was Paul Shave's performance as Bernard, a hopelessly incompetent doctor who bores everybody with an annual Christmas puppet show that has 16 excruciatingly horrible scenes, but thankfully we only had to sit through three. Or was it two? Paul's performance made you think he really was Bernard, a man most people would endure torture to avoid talking to.

A bright, well-made set added to the enjoyment and Tracey Pearce's smooth, skilled direction ensured an enjoyable night out.


Review from the ODN newsletter.

The ‘Season’ is Christmas when families gather under one roof and, after drink has been taken, when all the old grievances surface. The ones we all keep nicely hidden for the rest of the year. Alan Ayckbourn does not disappoint - lots of laughs which turn to guilt when we realise we are laughing at, not with, his characters. Typical Ayckbourn - Is he really so cynical?

Lovely Christmassy set designed by Helen Saxton and generally well acted by the experienced Compton Players - no prompts needed!

The acting honours, however, must go to Eric Saxton as the curmudgeonly Uncle. His superb timing shows Ayckbourn as he should be interpreted. He had obviously studied the text and body language needed - all acting skills learned during his long theatrical career.

Some nice ‘drunken’ acting from the Players - always difficult to play convincingly, and a great puppet theatre designed and built by Dave Hawkins.

Compton Players used an extended stage to make three rooms and a dining area, creating a believable home for the actors to inhabit.

The full house enjoyed a good laugh, getting us all in the mood for Christmas - or not.