It’s Christmas! Identify with past festivities and all the usual disasters. Boring relatives (often drunk) mystifying presents. Dodgy plumbing, very strange neighbours. Sounds Familiar? Then come along and enjoy this hilarious comedy.
Review from the Manchester Evening News
ANYONE in their right mind would condemn Mike Harding’s 1997 farce, Comfort and Joy as a load of piffle. But when you see this ridiculous Christmas comedy, you are not in your right mind because you laugh so much it sends you off kilter. This is thanks to the team work and timing of a top rate cast who present a sequence of chaotic incidents which disturb a Christmas gathering. The intricate set with eye-catching details is, at first, dominated by an unbenevolent Santa Claus. He turns out to be Goff, a widower who is awaiting the return of his daughter and son-in-law after 30 years in Australia. ‘Geoff Noar’s Goff is stubborn. He has never forgiven his daughter’s husband for taking his prized saw Down Under. Their return home is dampened by his resentment which he takes to ridiculous lengths. But this isn’t a one man show. There are 12 people in it and, together, they illustrate the familiar stress and squabbles of the festive season. In the midst of it all there are some delightful cameos, I particularly liked the crazy pair who were away with the fairies because they thought they had been abducted by aliens. The play is well-laced with political incorrectness. The scene where this dysfunctional family play charades is particularly well done. It appears spontaneous and provides some of the best laughs of the evening. The production seems easy and natural though it must have been a challenge to director Val Watkinson. There is constant and swift interaction and it makes big demands on the energy of the players. The episode where Christmas presents are given and opened is highly demanding and equally funny.
Comfort and Joy is the perfect antidote to a windy winter’s night.
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