Season's Greetings: London Premiere Reviews

Season's Greetings had a convoluted route to the West End preceded initially by a tour of the original production of the play to The Round House in 1980 for its London premiere. Eighteen months later Alan Ayckbourn then directed the play at Greenwich Theatre, which transferred to the Apollo Theatre in 1982. This page presents extracts from some of the major reviews of the Greenwich production of the play and the subsequent transfer.

Country Life
"The play comes close to being Ayckbourn's best…. If you have never seen an Ayckbourn play, this one both defines and distinguishes the form; if you have, it's still unmissable."

Daily Telegraph (by John Barber)
"Not all of the comedy, and none of the laughter that Alan Ayckbourn has written into
Season's Greetings - and this is one of his funniest plays - can disguise its acerbity. What makes the play satisfying is its deadly clear-sightedness. Suburban marriage makes him shudder and he plunged his knife in deep."

Evening Standard (by Charles Spencer)
"There are still a few misguided souls who regard Alan Ayckbourn as an essentially lightweight dramatist, the reliable but far from profound provider of cleverly crafted domestic comedies.
Season's Greetings should put paid to that comfortably patronising view for good. As in all Ayckbourn's zest work, this jaundiced view of the festive season contains beautifully developed scenes which leave the observer quite helpless with laughter. But the underlying mood is bleak and bitter for what the play really offers is a cool analysis of the many ways in which people make each other miserable."

Financial Times (by Michael Coveney)
"This splendid revival by the author… confirmed two of my most overtly held sneaking suspicions: that Ayckbourn prospers in the proscenium arch - or end-stage - (despite his work originating 'in the round') and that the better the actors the better the show."

The Guardian (by Michael Billington)
"A prime example of Ayckbourn's ability to blend comedy and tragedy…. What is impressive is Ayckbourn's total control of mood so that (as in Chekhov) we are sometimes caught between laughter and tears…. It is a vintage Ayckbourn piece that holds the mirror up to nature with only the faintest distortion."

The Stage (by Peter Hepple)
"Alan Ayckbourn is probably thought of as a writer of comedy but the more plays of his one sees, the more one realises that he is a pessimist in the Strindberg class, coating bitter observation with a crisp sugar shell of humour…. What we see, and it is all the more hilariously sad because of it, is the desperate striving for normality and happiness of a family party."

The Times (by irving Wardle)
"The play is not in his [Ayckbourn's] top flight. He sets himself too many problems: how to write about Christmas without bringing the children on, and how to release the feelings of the frustrated ladies…. Otherwise Ayckbourn's production is a treat from start to finish. Its characters take on an ever-strengthening definition while simultaneously engaging in an increasingly concentrated action."

All reviews are copyright of the respective publication.