Gilly Grist's original Christmas play triumphs at Colne's Little Theatre

A wonderfully tender and original tale of a family's hopes and woes is being presented at The Little Theatre this week by Colne Dramatic Society.

Tuesday, 4th December 2018, 4:47 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th December 2018, 5:00 pm
Pauline Shalliker and Leah Walsh starring in Gilly Grist's family drama at The Little Theatre, Colne. Photo by Gilly Grist. (s)
Pauline Shalliker and Leah Walsh starring in Gilly Grist's family drama at The Little Theatre, Colne. Photo by Gilly Grist. (s)

All I Want For Christmas follows the trials and tribulations of the Porter-Green family, which has brought together three step-siblings.

Each member of the family carries a secret, which they fear could tear the entire unit apart.

This beautifully written play is the work of one of the society’s own members: Gilly Grist, who is also the director.

Pauline Shalliker was fantastic in the role of mum Jane Porter, an artist who is struggling to cope with the pressure of holding everyone together.

The actress showcased an impressive range, handling difficult emotions with skill and sensitivity while exuding fun and warmth in the more playful scenes. She made for an endearing lead character.

Riz Riley starred opposite Pauline as Jane’s workaholic husband Sam Green.

He gave a confident performance and had a natural air about him, suggesting he was very much at home on the stage.

Mollie Thompson made for a likeable Penny, Sam’s 18-year-old daughter.

The actress demonstrated a real insight into the fears of an ambitious and aspiring young dancer who struggles with perfectionism and feels invisible to her father.

Jane’s youngest daughter, Rosie, is the baby of the family who dreams of becoming a professional musician - but worries how her mum will cope once she’s flown the nest.

She was played by Leah Walsh, who brought a lovely playfulness to the role.

Leighton Hunt made for a strong Jack Porter, capturing his teenage angst in both comedic and moving ways.

Finally, Ken Horsfield sprinkled what is mainly an emotional drama with an extra dose of light and comedy as Jane’s dad, Rupert, a 75-year-old man looking for a young new wife and living his life to the full.

All I Want For Christmas is the second play by Gilly Grist to hit the Little Theatre stage.

It follows her charming love story, Second Chance, which made its debut in 2015.

This week’s production is every bit as impressive as her first offering.

Gilly has real talent for creating believable and relatable characters using natural language and realistic settings, and the story remains dynamic despite taking place entirely within the family sitting room.

She sensitively handles difficult issues and makes them accessible by delving into the world of ordinary people, throwing light onto the beauty and dysfunction of day-to-day family life.

All of these techniques are then elegantly woven together to inspire empathy for her characters.

Gilly’s flair for natural language allows her to pepper a scene with fun and playfulness in one moment, then deliver an emotional wallop in the next.

Thanks to the simplicity of the script and the universality of the themes, it seems as though any cast - from here in Lancashire to across the pond in America - could make the story their own while delivering its powerful messages.

Performances run from tonight to Saturday, at 7-30pm nightly.

Tickets: book via the theatre answerphone on 01282 861424.