Reviewed by Kerry Cooper

October 2012

Barbara Love is host of a BBC children’s program. Every Christmas Eve she holds a party for her co-workers, but do not let this act of kindness fool you. She is also extremely ambitious and self absorbed. The party promises to be unforgettable, as the host has received death threats in the form of letters, answering machine messages and morbid gifts under the tree.

Terrance Feely‘s play is set in 1970’s London and the carefully decorated home of the central character is testament to this era. Beth Venning‘s attention to detail is pleasing to the eye; as is the set itself designed by director Robert Andrews. Costumes and hair styles also mimicked the flair of the 70s.

Andrews has assembled an able cast. Experienced Theresa Dolman leads the way as Barbara Love, her controlling nature evident at every turn. Hayley Mitchell did well as her likeable secretary Connie bringing an energy to the stage that was badly needed at times. Jack the producer, played by Nick Hargreaves, gives a confident performance with a voice that resonated through the theatre.

As the evening progresses the tension builds, highlighting the cracks in the relationships of the characters on stage. Damon Hill, plays frustrated writer Donald, his poison pen aimed directly at make-up artist Ray Lacy, beautifully brought to life with just enough camp by Sam Evans. Together Damon and Sam provide much of the comic relief, however lack of timing meant that some lines were lost on an otherwise attentive audience.

Paul Reston, Barbara’s jilted lover played by Sean Venning, trudged around the stage with a scowl which remained constant. Russell Byrne as photographer and obsessed fan Dave showed promise.

Held together incredibly well by actor Steve Weyland, whose character Christopher Moore was entirely believable.

The only thing letting this production down on opening night was lack of pace at times and fluffed lines, but this could be put down to opening night jitters. I believe this is a good show which will improve as the run goes on.

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