Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

Anyone for happy families?

Christmas cheer from Stephen Downing (director, left), Viv Cole (playing Belinda), Richard Taylor, (Neville), Hilary Thompson (Phyllis), David Claridge, (Clive), Vilma Wilson (Rachel), Matt Preece (Eddie) and Kerena Taylor (Pattie, seated).

Season's Greetings,

The Nonentities

Rose Theatre, Kidderminster


I recently discovered that Sir Alan Ayckbourn is the second most performed playwright after William Shakespeare and it so easy to see why.

The Nonentites at The Kidderminster Rose Theatre as a rule perform Ayckbourn very well and their latest production of Season's Greetings is no exception. The sell out crowd on a Tuesday evening is also proof of that.

Having seen several Ayckbourn plays it is my belief that you must have excellent direction to make it a success and that this is exactly what Steven Downing has done with this production. With multiple characters, a main plot, plus several sub plots and various entrances and exits a director must be on the ball so that Ayckbourn's farce does not become, well, farcical. Downing has done this brilliantly!

In a nutshell you have nine characters all made up of family and their friends, with children unseen in the bacground, all celebrating a festive family Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

What ensues is nose bleeds, romps under the Christmas tree, tears and quite possibly the worst and  at the same time funniest puppet show you will ever see on the stage.

Kerena Taylor playing Pattie and Matt Preece playing the out-of-work and uncaring Eddie

The ensemble cast performed incredibly well together with Chris Clarke's portrayal of Uncle Bernard (creator of the 16 act puppet show) as a particular highlight. Clarke actually performed on a par with the professional actor that I saw a few years ago in the same role, his characterisation was flawless throughout and the puppet show routine was the most hysterical part of the play.

Although Uncle Bernard's character interacts with most actors on stage, the partnership between him and Uncle Harvey played by Patrick Bentley (the mad uncle with an obsession with guns and knives) was very good. Uncle Harvey's disgust and antagonising commentary throughout his puppet show rehearsal brought the house down.

Vivienne Cole and Richard Taylor played the married couple of Belinda and Neville. Cole came across well as the bored and frustrated housewife and Taylor shone every time he delivered a line.

Matt Preece and Kerena Taylor portrayed out of work Eddie and pregnant Pattie. Preece performed the uncaring Eddie well and Taylor played the part of supposedly down trodden Pattie more dominantly than I have seen before but nevertheless it still worked.

Vilma Wilson played the role of spinster Rachel excellently and David Claridge played her dashing suitor Clive seductively.

A part which has the least stage exposure is Phyllis, the long suffering wife of Uncle Bernard which personally I think is a shame. Especially when you get an actress as good as Hilary Thompson who's few moments on stage are performed so well, you're left wanting more.

The Nonentites have done it again – a thoroughly brilliant production and just in time for Christmas.

Sold out until Saturday – returns only. To 08-12-12.

Eva Easthope 

Home Reviews A-Z Reviews by affiliate