Gatiss joins Tate for Christmas at the National

Published September 9, 2010

League Of Gentlemen star and Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss will be wintering at the National Theatre, where he joins the previously announced Catherine Tate and a stellar cast in a revival of Alan Ayckbourn’s christmassy comedy Season’s Greetings.

The cast of the Marianne Elliott-directed piece, which opens in the Lyttelton theatre on 8 December (previews from 1 December), also includes Jenna Russell, Katherine Parkinson, Nicola Walker, Neil Stuke, David Troughton, Oliver Chris and Mark Wootton.

Ayckbourn’s play, set during a less than perfect festive family gathering, features Tate as Belinda, whose husband Neville (Stuke) has, not for the first time, forgotten to purchase his wife’s present. Meanwhile Rachel (Walker) is worked up about her love life, Phyllis (Russell) consumes enough alcohol to put a sherry-swilling Santa to shame, Patti (Parkinson) and Eddie (Wootton) are arguing, Bernard (Gatiss) is preparing a puppet show and Harvey (Troughton) is becoming more eccentric by the minute.

Season’s Greetings is a stark contrast to Darker Shores, the ghoulish ghost story in which Gatiss was due to perform at Hampstead theatre last Christmas. Sadly, family illness forced him to withdraw from that production at the last minute to be replaced by Tom Goodman-Hill.

Like Gatiss, Season’s Greetings marks Stuke’s National Theatre debut, though the actor is a regular on the London stage, with credits including Boeing Boeing, Blue/Orange and Rookery Nook.

Much of the cast, like Gatiss and Stuke – who has appeared in The Rise And Fall Of Reggie Perrin, Game On and Drop The Dead Donkey on television – are well known for their small screen comedy appearances. Parkinson is a regular on cult C4 hit The IT Crowd, Chris’s credits include Nathan Barley and Green Wing, and Wootton has appeared in La La Land, Nighty Night and High Spirits With Shirley Ghostman.

Troughton is a National Theatre regular – with credits including Playing With Fire, Measure For Measure and Peter Pan – as is Walker, who has been seen in Gethsemane, Tales From The Vienna Woods and Edmond, though she may be best known for playing Ruth in BBC spy drama Spooks.

Laurence Olivier Award-winning actress Russell, who picked up the coveted statuette for her performance in Sunday In The Park With George, can currently be seen in the Open Air Theatre’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods.

MA