Written by The Rochdale Cowboy Mike Harding in 1997, but not a bit dated – everybody knows family Christmases since time immemorial always end in chaos like this one.
Ian Edmundson stars as Goff, a grumpy old man who comes across as Victor Meldrew meets Jim Royle. ‘You’re crap’, he shouts at carol singers who come to the door, which sets the tone for the play.
Goff is spending Christmas with niece Margaret (Kirsten Burnett) and her Irish husband, Martin (David Arrow). Martin buys things that have fallen off lorries and never work. Like Christmas tree lights.
Goff’s daughter Fiona (Ann Dawson) arrives from Australia with husband, Jimmy (Jeff Redfern). Goff hasn’t forgiven Jimmy for stealing his saw (and his daughter) 30 years ago.
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Add to the mix, two nutty neighbours who believe they have been abducted by angels (Roger and Di Prutton) and Martin’s daughter Kathy (Emily Cartmell) who brings along her poncy boyfriend, Crispin (Tim Cave) covered in cat poo.
They play charades; gifts are exchanged; Crispin eats live stick insects thinking they are Twiglets; the dog (a martyr to recurrent flatulence) fights the cats for the turkey which they have dragged into the garden.
To cap it all, a couple turn up (Kathy Gemmell and Billy Charles) and the woman turns out to be Jimmy’s original wife whom he never bothered to divorce.
Full of broad humour and a virtual handbook of funny jokes and corny one liners, Bob Gemmell’s direction was spot on. The cast obviously enjoyed themselves as much as the audience and it certainly rang a few bells of celebrations passed.
So much so, I think I’ll stay in bed this Christmas Day and listen to The Archers in peaceful solitude.