A Comfortable run through Harding’s Joy

Kirsten Burnett, David Arrow and Andrea Neville in a scene from the Lytham Anonymous Players' prodiction of Mike Harding's Comfort and Joy

Kirsten Burnett, David Arrow and Andrea Neville in a scene from the Lytham Anonymous Players' prodiction of Mike Harding's Comfort and Joy

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Mike Harding’s 1997 festive comedy provides the audience with plenty of chuckles in the capable hands of the company now to be known as Lytham Anonymous Players.

Harding combines northern earthiness, zany imagery and a variety of stereotypical characters in equal proportions to produce the humour.

The accomplished Ian Edmundson as the patriarchal head of a somewhat dysfunctional family presides breezily over all that can go wrong at Christmas – ghastly unwanted presents, reignited family tensions, the ritual game of charades, eccentric visitors, plus anything else you can think of.

There is strong work too from David Arrow as Irish Martin, Jeff Redfern as Australian Jimmy and Di Prutton as the completely barking Monica.

Director Bob Gemmell and his cast battle hard with a script which tells some of the jokes in a long-winded way, with too many dated references.

The female roles, all excellently performed, are too palely written to create much momentum.

As a Christmas offering, it’s amusing enough fare for an
appreciative audience as the company’s 261st production, but some will look forward to rather better crafted drama in Mike Leigh’s Abigail’s Party in April.

Julian Wilde