If you wanted to contrive a vehicle for stirring up stress, aggravation, sibling rivalry, drunkenness, lechery and much else besides, you could hardly do worse than opt for a family Christmas. Yet, every year, millions of us repeat the same well-trodden process of assembling families for a 2 or 3 day festive celebration, that frequently turns out to be disastrous. And that's exactly what Alan Ayckbourn's 1980 play is all about – a family Christmas peppered with tensions fuelled by drink and the stress created when people with little else in common but their biological origins face confinement together.
Ostensibly a comedy, there's actually more to 'Season's Greetings' than simply creating humorous situations. Simmering under the surface, and sometimes boiling over it, are tensions which are significantly darker than the merriness we'd like to think of as the hallmark of the season. The play is set over three days from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day, and is notable because of its absence of children in the cast. In fact, this device actually turns out to be highly effective because what we're witnessing are adults more or less acting like children.