The hell of Christmas

By Sue Lupton

Friday, January 18, 2013

 

The hell of Christmas

The cast of Snowed Under, from left, Drew Adcock as Nigel, Mike Santer as Frank, and Amanda Gregory as Susan. Picture by Laura Holme.

STAGE REVIEW EVERYTHING that could go wrong at Christmas does go wrong in Gwen Stevens’s black comedy, Snowed Under.

The award-winning director’s first screenplay was performed by the Apollo Players at Trinity Theatre, Cowes, on Friday and Saturday, in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society.

Susan and her family drive up North to spend Christmas with her parents.

Grandad (Mike Santer) is senile and Grandma (Carol King) is sick. The children (Emily Scott-Denness and William Hodges) argue and the heating breaks down.

The set has the bedroom on one side and the sitting room on the other.

Everything hinges on Susan, played by Amanda Gregory. She has to keep an eye on Grandad, referee the children’s arguments and look after Grandma.

She tries phoning for help, but the doctor refuses to come out on Christmas Eve and the local plumber has died.

She gets precious little help from her husband, Nigel (Drew Adcock), who proves to be miserable, lazy and feckless. He cuts himself when he tries to chop firewood.

The catalogue of disasters continues, until Grandma dies on Christmas Day.

Susan decides not to spoil Christmas for Grandad or the children, so she doesn’t tell them the sad news.

The most farcical scene has Susan and Nigel trying to smuggle Grandma’s corpse out of the house in the dead of night. Grandad, who is asleep on the sofa next door, wakes unexpectedly and almost catches them in the act. Nigel hurts his back and Susan is forced to drag the corpse back to the bedroom.

Things continue to go downhill.

Heavy snow has taken the telephone line down and the daughter, Zoe, (Emily Scott-Denness) develops appendicitis. It is Grandad who saves the day. In his confused state, he wanders off into the snow. Just as Susan is about to go looking for him, he is brought home by a policewoman, who uses her two-way radio to call for help.

The cast gave a well-rehearsed performance, which was appreciated by the large audience on Saturday night.

Gwen Stevens’ script revealed a macabre sense of humour and willingness to challenge taboos. The underlying theme of families caring for ageing parents was well handled.

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