THE HOLLY AND THE IVY
Little Baddow Drama
This is the kind of traditional, "well-made" play Little Baddow does best.
An old-fashioned three-acter, with a beautiful solid set, about an old-fashioned family Christmas, set in a world of bedjackets and eau-de-cologne, where the Waits still sing carols and the trains run on Christmas Day.
Wynyard Browne's creaky dialogue and improbable characters don't necessarily play well today, but there are some deep Chekhovian insights into death and despair, the meaning of Christmas and the role of the family.
Ken Rolf movingly suggested the doubts of the ageing clergyman, setting off with his shoes in his pockets and his sermon in his hand. We were all relieved when the happy ending saw him reconciled with his difficult daughter [an elegant, emotional Sarah Trippett-Jones]. Jo Windley-Poole nicely caught the dilemma of the stay-at-home daughter, desperately clutching at her chance of escape with her "Scotch" beau [James Oakley].
The best of the variable accents on offer was the Dublin brogue of Annette Michaels, giving a spirited performance as the formidable Aunt Bridget.
Sensible, sententious Richard Wyndham was played by John Peregrine; his steady director's hand was at the helm of this polished revival in this, the playwright's centenary year.