Christmas V Mastermind: World Premiere ReviewsThis page contains the only review held in archive of the world premiere production of Alan Ayckbourn's Christmas V Mastermind at the Victoria Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent, in December 1962.
New Vic Cooking Up A Rollicking Recipe
"If those professional idiots of recent years, the Goons, were to turn their hand to a Christmas stage show it might wall resemble Christmas V Mastermind, the seasonal offering of the "New Vic" Theatre Company at the Victoria Theatre, Hartshill.
The show has the same slick, high-speed lunacy, with a liberal use of crazy sound-effects. But it has more besides...
Actor-dramatist Alan Ayckbourn has aimed at entertaining children and adults alike - and has succeeded, with a mixture containing fantasy, well-directed satire, broad comedy and comic-strip humour.
Obviously, in this sort of show, where "ad-libbing" is encouraged, the "plot" is of no great significance.
The play is concerned with the machinations of a gang of criminals, headed by the Crimson Gollywog, to overthrow Father Christmas, a toy factory tycoon.
To add to the fun, the gang are constantly pursued by two dedicated, but dim, members of the police.
There are some telling satirical swipes, principally at labour relations (the management as well as the union side), but also in passing at politicians, rough play in soccer and English name pronunciation of the "Cholmondeley - Chumley" variety.
Though an odd situation misfires, Peter Cheeseman's production generally goes with gusto and at a rollicking pace.
Alan Ayckbourn (the Crimson Gollywog) and Elizabeth Bell (his secretary, Angora) masterfully assume various guises, and there are delightful cameos from the rest of the cast.
Stanley Page is a highly athletic Father Christmas. Heather Stoney a thoroughly "Brummy" fairy, David Halliwell a haranguing trade unionist Gnome, and David Wehner and Peter King perfectly unsavoury criminals. Arnold Beck and Caroline Smith are the two conscientious cops.
I heartily recommend the show as wonderfully wholesome entertainment for anyone aged from nine to 90."
(Evening Sentinel, 1 January 1963)
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