Playhouse present something different for Christmas, with Rules for Living

Fancy something other than a panto at the theatre this Christmas? The Playhouse Theatre take a quirky look at Christmas Lunch with Sam Holcroft’s Rules for Living from Tuesday 11 December 2018.

Far from your standard production documenting family dynamics and societal norms, Rules For Living introduces more and more bizarre, and quite specific, rules as the play goes on.

Edith plans everything with military precision, but her plans are destined to be thrown into disarray. Her son Matthew arrives partnered by a nervously jocular actor, Carrie, but secretly nurses a passion for his sister-in-law, Sheena. And Sheena, a compulsive drinker, is unable to contain her anger at her cynical, underachieving husband, Adam, or her concern for their psychologically damaged daughter, Emma.

The play follows the family preparing for Christmas lunch and tensions begin to rise as they deal with family issues. Each movement, gesture, or voice is dictated over by the play’s set of “rules” which the actors must follow to function correctly in Holcroft’s world. The “rules” mimic the analysis undertaken when using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques to draw the audience’s attention to what is motivating each character’s actions and reactions.

Rules for Living is directed by Philip Welsh, who trained at Nottingham University, performed at Nottingham Playhouse and then went into theatre and drama teaching. Since then, the path to The Northampton Playhouse has included directing in theatres in Kent and Baghdad, as well as being a partner in a Middle East Export Company and more than twenty years with The Department for Transport. His interest in sound engineering has seen him moonlighting as a freelance technician for several broadcast companies and theatres. Although now retired from his own Transport Safety Consultancy, he is still creating sound files for several theatres, including the Playhouse – the theatre always having been his first love.

The cast features Kevin Evans as Matthew, Sarah Jane Eyre and Jenny Welsh who are sharing the role of Emma, Rebecca Mackenzie as Carrie, Juliet O’Connor as Sheena, Stewart Magrath as Adam, Gena McCrystal as Edith and Victor Guse as Francis.

Rules for Living runs at The Playhouse Theatre from Tues 11 – Sat 15 December 2018 each evening at 7.45pm. Tickets cost £9 and £8 for concessions and may be booked by telephoning the box office on 01604 627791 (answerphone) or by emailing All details are on the theatre’s website at