Alan Ayckbourn’s collection of poignant comedies Confusions is a set of five inter-linked plays, which have as a common theme the confusion, heartache and comedy caused when people fail to communicate.
This was a fun play to do. Strictly speaking, it wasn't a play, but five separate plays. This was quite a challenge on our small stage, as we had to coordinate the changing of the set into our playing time. As we are also such a small company, we had to use the actors to change the set. We tried to do this in character – the distraught Mum “tidied” up the toys for Mother Figure whilst the barman from Drinking Companions transformed the lounge into a bar, with the help of another “barman” who was not involved in that play. More bar staff turned that bar into a restaurant for Between Mouthfuls. During the interval, “bar” and “restaurant” staff cleared the “restaurant” and Gosforth, the Vicar, Milly and Stewart set the scene for Gosforth’s Fete. They cleared it away at the end, and various “gardeners” helped set up for A Talk in the Park
The two funniest plays were Between Mouthfuls, with the waiter appearing at just the most awkward moments as the couples aired their differences, and Gosforth’s Fete with the Vicar having problems with the urn, Milly and Gosforth with the PA system and Stewart getting drunk. The funniest character, though, was Harry, in Drinking Companions. Both Mother Figure and A Talk in the Park gave us a little giggle as well, but they both had their very serious sides, taking a sideways look at human nature.
Alan Ayckbourn’s evening of blackly comic short plays on the theme of loneliness takes us on such an agonising ride through a variety of instantly recognisable situations that we found ourselves squirming with embarrassment.
We meet the mother unable to escape from the world of baby talk, the drunk would-be seducer sales rep, the evening at the restaurant in which a couple’s affair comes to light, a disastrous village fete and a group of people in a park unable to communicate.
Ayckbourn’s ability to mine the depths of pity and futility is best served here by Steve Humnphreys as the wonderfully smarmy sales rep, and by Simon Goodison and Diana Orton as the couple whose holiday affair is gradually exposed over dinner by their respective spouses.
The Daily Echo, 1st January 2005
|Mrs Pearce||Rosemarie Parker|
|Mrs Pearce||Rosemarie Parker|
This is a very cleverly composed set of plays. Harry, the sleazy sales, rep is the connection between Mother Figure and Drinking Companions. He is also the husband of the obsessed mother in the first play. The bar in which he drinks could well be in the same hotel as the restaurant where the Pearces and Martin and Polly have their upsets. Mrs. Pearce then also makes an appearance in Gosforth’s Fete. Could Gosforth also be the publican referred to in A Talk in the Park?
Maybe the main connection, after all, is the confusion which a total lack of communication causes.
|Set design||Sarah O’Connor|
|Set Building||The Players|