CONFUSIONS To 14 November.


by Alan Ayckbourn.

Stephen Joseph Theatre (The Round) In rep to 26 September.
2.30pm 15 Aug, 12, 26 Sept.
3pm 16 Aug.
4pm 29 Aug.
7.30pm 15, 28, 29 Aug, 11, 12, 15, 16, 24, 25 Sept.

then New Victoria Theatre Etruria Road Newcastle-under-Lyme ST5 0JG In rep 6-24 Oct.
2.15pm 17 Oct.
7.30pm 6, 7, 10, 12, 15, 16, 20, 21, 24 Oct.
Captioned 20 Oct.
TICKETS: 01782 717962.

then The Old Laundry Theatre Crag Brow Bowness-on-Windermere LA23 3BX In rep 3-14 November 2015.
2.30pm 14 Nov.
4.30pm 8 Nov.
7.30pm 3, 4, 7, 12, 13 Nov.
TICKETS: 08445 040604.

Runs 2hr 20min One interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 1 August.

Five morceaux make a fine slice of bitter-edged comedy.
Last year Alan Ayckbourn’s new play Roundelay offered audiences nightly the chance to vote on the order in which they would see the five scenes with their separate stories but an overlapping character between any two.

Despite interesting possibilities for anyone seeing the show several times, the impact was often dulled by the scenes themselves. Ayckbourn has revisited existing plays as a source of something new, but this time the original was, if less structurally adventurous, far more satisfying.

Confusions has an energy and observation its later derivative lacked. What exactly’s confusing whom isn’t defined, but life throws-up its surprises. New residents discover their neighbour Lucy treats them like children, and in the process Rosemary re-evaluates her marriage with Terry, while the next scene shows Lucy’s husband Harry on a business trip trying it on with two young women.

Bernice’s response is evident but the end is a key point with a possible ambiguity over Paula – though Ayckbourn’s revival doesn’t encourage the idea of prospective dalliance.

Audiences assume the Waiter in Drinking Companion’s bar is the same as in the restaurant of Between Mouthfuls, though it seems a very different establishment. If he is the same, this would locate the tree middle scenes around Middlesbrough – unusual Ayckbourn territory.

After the trick of letting us hear the difficulties of two married couples only as the Waiter might overhear hem, Ayckbourn moves into farce-land with Gosforth’s Fête where (a device used by others since) two people’s adultery is accidently advertised to the assembled village throng by a dodgy public address system.

This fête worse than death rises to a farcical conclusion, after which the quiet dis-ease as strangers start telling all on park benches – disturbed by each other but pouring-out their own concerns – is both contrast and culmination to these studies in the loneliness of the long-distance suburbanite.

Ayckbourn’s unfussy production is expertly acted by some familiar Scarborough actors, especially Russell Dixon, whose Gosforth might be on the mature side for a relationship with innocent young Millie, but whose insinuating Arthur gives the closing scene a creepily comic sense of something sinister.

Mother Figure
Lucy: Elizabeth Boag.
Rosemary: Emma Manton.
Terry: Stephen Billington.

Drinking Companion
Harry: Richard Stacey.
Paula: Emma Manton.
Waiter: Stephen Billington.
Bernice: Elizabeth Boag.

Between Mouthfuls
Waiter: Stephen Billington.
Mr Pearce: Russell Dixon.
Mrs Pearce: Elizabeth Boag.
Martin: Richard Stacey.
Polly: Emma Manton.

Gosforth’s Fête:
Mrs Pearce: Elizabeth Boag.
Milly: Emma Manton.
Gosforth: Russell Dixon.
Vicar: Richard Stacey.
Stewart: Stephen Billington.

A Talk in the Park
Arthur: Russell Dixon.
Beryl: Elizabeth Boag.
Charles: Richard Stacey.
Doreen: Emma Manton.
Ernest: Stephen Billington.

Director: Alan Ayckbourn.
Designer: Michael Holt.
Lighting: Jason Taylor.

2015-08-14 11:22:51

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