Review: Comfort and Joy, Botesdale Hall

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Production by WARTS

Dire carol singing, a grumpy Santa, a too-big tree, garish decorations, black-outs - all are subject to Mike Harding’s wit. Add the dysfunctional family get-together and the wince-making presents for a recognisable Yule.

While the promised hilarity never quite happens, there is still much to amuse in John Tate’s production. This is a group incapable of fielding a weak cast. Kriz Stiff, playing far above his years, dominates as a rumbustious, north-country uncle. Lynn Wilson, as a northern mum, makes you forget she ever played posh southerners.

Rob Johnson, an actor with vigour, makes a grand Irish dad. Emma Matthews and Tim Hall cleverly suggest a couple who lived in Australia. Alison Dumbell and Richard Telford are good value as a batty couple convinced they have been abducted by aliens.

I liked Roz Morgan, as the schoolteacher daughter, a truthful, believable performance; and David Neeve’s wet, out-of-place Cambridge graduate. The play seems to say that we all get the Christmas we deserve.