November 29, 2000

Confusions

I am a fan of Alan Ayckbourn and eagerly awaited the Pirton Player’s presentation of his play Confusions during early December. It was indeed very funny and highly entertaining but there was much more to it than that; it also provoked very deep thoughts, as do so many of his plays, and this greatly added to the enjoyment.

 

The play had been billed as five inter-linked one act plays and it became something of a challenge to find the links. I also needed to throw light on the meaning of the title. However, on reading the programme on the night, it became apparent that the Players had made Confusions even more confusing by making minor changes.

 

Ayckbourn had created two characters to link two pairs of plays but these had been removed by using different people to play the parts. These changes were made for a very good reason; to provide experience for a greater number of the Society’s members. Fortunately the plays and the players were strong enough to offset these effects.

 

Each play depicted a number of human characteristics.

 

Mother Figure was about a mother locked in a child’s world and self-isolation. She ignored repeated telephone calls and her previously unknown neighbours failed to change her ways. Amusingly, they succumbed to the same malady and this revealed fractures in their own relationship.

 

Drinking Companion began with a travelling salesman trying to make a phone call, a clear link to the first play. Having failed in this he turned his attention to a young woman in the hotel bar. Flattery and bribery failed to get the young woman and her friend to his room so he enlisted his most powerful weapon, alcohol, but even this didn’t quite succeed. Slowly, to the immense delight of the audience, his alcoholic consumption increased, his faculties failed him and the girls made their escape – almost managing to hold on to his room key!

 

Between Mouthfuls comprised two simultaneous mini-plays each about a couple at a dinner table with a waiter moving between them. As he moved, so did the dialogue and this revealed further marital disharmony, loneliness, selfishness and infidelity. The young woman at one table had been on a clandestine holiday with the elder man from the other table but to confuse matters, the ambitious younger man worked for the very same man.

 

Gosforth’s Fete was a disastrous and riotous village activity. The incompetent Gosforth even unwittingly broadcast the tea lady’s whispered news that she was pregnant by him. In the best farcical style her fiancé, the wolf cub master, was distraught whilst the vicar was suitably disgusted. The act ended in chaos as Gosforth exploded the tea urn, nearly electrocuted the opening speaker and vicar, the cubs went out of control and the marquee collapsed in a thunderstorm. The audience laughed uncontrollably.

 

A Walk in the Park was a strange, subtle play about five eccentric introverts seated on four park benches. Each was obsessed with personal problems and all attempts to share the problems resulted in the listener escaping to the next bench. It was a little like musical chairs without the music! The players, particularly Paul Ribbans, did well to maintain momentum in this final play, coming as it did immediately after the farcical Gosforth’s Fete.

 

Did I find all the links? No, not quite, it was so confusing!

 

Amateur theatrical performers find it increasingly difficult to make an impact now that our exposure to high quality professional performances is so high but, in this production, all the players did well and are to be congratulated. I was greatly encouraged to see so many new faces and this gives great hope for the future. One such person was Edward Picken who played the part of the lonely salesman in Drinking Companion. Edward was outstanding. With the excellent support of Jill Rogers and Katie Guess he held the audience spellbound throughout the entire play – a rare achievement in amateur dramatics. Overall direction was by Anton Jungreuthmayer and production by Susie Welch – well done.

 

The Players put enormous effort and enthusiasm into all their production and seem to succeed in all they undertake. They provide one of the invaluable anchors in village life and serve us well. May they continue to thrive and create even more enjoyment in future years. [Review by Cyril Granger]

Director  -  Roger Blackburn
Director  -  Sarah Farr
Director  -  Jeannie Jungreuthmayer
Director  -  Sue Kennedy
Director  -  Paul Kerswill

Producer - Susie Welch

Cast
Arthur  -  Paul Ribbans
Bernice  -  Katy Guess
Beryl  -  Cheryl Syvertsen
Charles  -  Peter Johnson
Doreen  -  Mary Hollingdale
Ernest  -  Tom Gammell
Gosforth  -  Stuart Alexander
Harry  -  Ed Picken
Lucy  -  Helen Walker
Martin  -  Stephen Thorpe
Milly  -  Juliet Alexander
Mrs Pearce  -  Judy McDonnell
Mrs Pearce  -  Penny Picken
Paula  -  Jill Rogers
Pearce  -  Michael Tackley
Polly  -  Lou Robinson
Rosemary  -  Debbie Keating
Stewart  -  Dudley Gentle
Terry  -  Richard Farr
Vicar  -  Graham Gibbs
Waiter  -  Derek Jarrett
Waiter  -  Anthony Edwards

Crew
Bar  -  Lorna Sexton
Box Office  -  Penny Picken
Costumes  -  Helen Walker
Costumes  -  Valmai Guess
Director  -  Roger Blackburn
Director  -  Sarah Farr
Director  -  Jeannie Jungreuthmayer
Director  -  Sue Kennedy
Director  -  Paul Kerswill
Front of House  -  Kate Gibbs
Lighting  -  Derek Webb
Lighting  -  Chris Stimson
Lighting  -  Bill Steadman
Make-up  -  Julia Thorpe
Make-up  -  Fran Manning
Musical Arrangement  -  Tim Welch
Principal Director  -  Anton Jungreuthmayer
Printing  -  Richard Farr
Producer  -  Susie Welch
Production Secretary  -  Bren Timson
Prompt  -  Betty Turner
Props  -  Liz Chapman
Props  -  Liz Gentle
Props  -  Ann Fausset
Props  -  Margaret Johnson
Publicity  -  Maxine Shearer
Publicity Design  -  Anthony Edwards
Refreshments  -  Gena Edwards
Set Construction  -  John Edwards
Set Construction  -  Ken Walker
Set Construction  -  Dave Timson
Set Construction  -  Brid Phillips
Set Construction  -  Peter Johnson
Set Construction  -  Dudley Gentle
Set Construction  -  Liz Willis
Set Construction  -  Richard Farr
Set Construction  -  Graham Gibbs
Set Designer  -  Liz Willis
Sound  -  Dave Wallace
Stage Crew  -  John Edwards
Stage Crew  -  Brian Sommerville
Stage Crew  -  Val Bryant
Stage Crew  -  Liz Willis
Stage Crew  -  Ken Walker
Stage Manager  -  Neil Shearer

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