A show for Christmas at the Everyman Studio, Cheltenham

A rather different sort of Christmas play, A Gloucestershire Midwinter is a delightful anthology of scenes themed around the festive season. The conceit is that a group reminisce about Christmas at home as they journey back to Gloucestershire through the snow. What follows is a mixture of song, poetry and drama as the troupe lead us through the cultural heritage of the county.

This is a co-production between the Hammerpuzzle Theatre Company and the Everyman Theatre, and a very successful collaboration at that. The material has been variously written, adapted or assembled by Tamsin Kennard, one of the quartet of players on stage. The four of them are very charming stage presences, easily winning over the audience with humour, then moving seamlessly into more poignant material.

The comparisons to The Canterbury Tales are self-evident, and like that collection A Gloucestershire Midwinter runs a gamut of styles and tones to great effect. There’s a jubilant and silly Mummer’s play, melancholic classics like In the Bleak Midwinter and Edward Thomas’ Adlestrop, and even a scene of Victorian social malcontent adapted from an upcoming novel, to name a few.

The play is varied, emotive and very keyed into how to lead the audience through its chocolate box of delights. The performers do a great job of celebrating the county’s festive heritage and strike an excellent balance between wistful episodes and uplifting ones. All told, a superb Christmas play.   ★★★★★    Fenton Coulthurst    7th December 2017