Review: TWAS THE FIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS at Hutt Repertory Theatre

By: Dec. 10, 2023
Review: TWAS THE FIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS at Hutt Repertory Theatre
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Reviewed by Neil Brewer

This play tells the story of a recently widowed mother who has her eclectic family arrive to the childhood home in the lead-up to Christmas.  She ends up not only having to juggle her dysfunctional family, but also being an unsuccessful French psychologist and a nosy neighbour.

 The set design (by director Mary Collie-Holmes) is wonderful, with a real home feel to it. One of the rooms of the psychologist’s home is cleverly placed in the corner and raised so it is obviously not a part of the family home. 

 The play starts off rather darkly in the psychologist’s room, where he enters drunk and with a noose around his neck, obviously in a state of depression.  The dark mood does not last long however, as Mary, his neighbour arrives uninvited to deliver him an important letter interrupting him and giving him a focus that helps him see things differently.  Hayden Rogers as the psychologist delivers his French accent well and his overall acting was a highlight for me. He had a good onstage presence and kept the play moving at a swift pace.  Great direction by Mary Collie-Holmes also assisted in moving things along.

'Twas the Fight before Christmas
Hutt Repertory Theatre

 Mary, played by Maria Buchanan was also convincing as a recent widow who was finding herself again.   

 A nosy neighbour, Ivy, played well by Ruth Sarratt pops up regularly through the show listening to conversations from outside the window and in the second act with the aid of a rather large listening device.

 The chaos begins when the entire family arrives. The youngest daughter Amanda arrives first. She is quite a simple girl who has not grown up and she was portrayed wonderfully by Sandra McClean, who I understand is debuting as a performer in this show. Congratulations, keep up the good work.

 The eldest daughter arrives at the very end of the first act but does not speak until the beginning of the second. It was quite strange how the first act ended, as the audience really had no idea it was intermission and only realised when one of the set dressers arrived to clear some of the set.  A lighting change was needed for us to realise the act had ended.

 The play gets momentum from the beginning of the second half when Stella, the eldest daughter arrives, and it is quickly apparent that she likes to be in charge. She treats her husband poorly and her mother with complete disrespect, wanting to control her life, right down to where she buys her groceries as she needs to protect her inheritance. Stella was played by Lian Butcher who really seemed to enjoy her role as the villain and pulled it off easily.  A great role, very well played.

The final cast member we meet is Desmond, played by Alex Walker, who plays Stella’s downtrodden husband. I felt sorry for him, which means he gave a good performance. 

 It was superb to watch a New Zealand play, with local references tonight.  We often rely on American or British plays for the majority of work performed, so I commend Hutt Repertory for sourcing local material.

 Overall it was an enjoyable and entertaining evening out, with some excellent performances on display.


Tickets available at