The Lichfield Garrick

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I have to hand it to the Lichfield Players – in all the years I’ve been watching them their knack of finding just the right play has never faltered, and cleverly here they’ve even managed to sneak in a humdinger of a Christmas classic that’s a theatre-goers dream well ahead of any possible yuletide competition. I won’t weary you by detailing the hilarious plot save to say it’s the family – and friends and neighbours – Christmas from Hell, laugh-out-loud funny from beginning to end with the warmest of warm hearts at its core, a yuletide caper made in heaven. Director Maureen George with the very lightest touch does a really sterling job of maintaining the exquisite balance of the widely ranging performances in this play adorned as it is with some of our most seasoned local players and one or two newish faces too. Real-life marrieds Chris and Sarah Stanley easily rule their roles as the stressed-out youngish couple who’ve been lumbered with hosting a close-family Christmas after a financially disastrous year. But every family cupboard has a skeleton, and here relations Harry (the splendidly bumbling Ian Parks) and unused-to-wine wife Doreen (the marvellous Rosemary Bodger) play the nightmare guests on Christmas Elm Street. And then there are the unapologetically sexually liberated neighbours Julie (the outrageaously glamorous Angelique Runnalls-Bould) and the truly marvellous new (to me) discovery Paul McEvoy as her husband Gary, the party-animal from hell. Annie Blackwell does a lovely job of being the classic teenager, while Lucy Bishop truly touches the heart with her simple acceptance of starting her own journey into family life. Favourite local character actor Dickie Bannister-Lowe completes the line-up at the play’s very end as her young-without-being-naïve partner Darren. From the comically outrageous, verging dare I say it on a bit of old yuletide Percy Filth to the warmest of heart-warming reconciliations, this laugh-a-minute production is one sure-fire hit. Ms George has done a marvellous job in marshalling the banquet of talent on offer here in a play that never falters over comic opportunity but which most charmingly has kindness, silliness, friendship, yes and love, at its core. Don’t miss it. A Kick in the Baubles runs in the Garrick Studio until Saturday (October 21) when there will also be a matinee performance. For tickets phone 01543 412121 or visit