One of the confusions in this production, although not without precedent, is the running order of the five interrelated plays that make up the complete work. Ayckbourn intended Confusions to end on the down note of A Talk in the Park. By placing it at the beginning, amusing though parts of it are, it gives a somewhat slow and low-key opening to the production which only gradually picks up pace in the second play, Mother Figure. The attraction of this arrangement, however, is that it allows the five actors to be on stage for both the opening and closing plays. Also, by placing Gosforth’s Fete last It makes the ending more energetic, lively and upbeat, but that is the exact opposite of what Ayckbourn wanted.

This production had too many hesitant moments and at times came across as under-rehearsed.

A Talk in the Park, then, is the play’s summative statement of the alienation, estrangement and isolation found in the previous scenes and characters’ lives, but as an opener it served to introduce these themes and the conditions were captured in calm and measured portrayals

The cast of Mother Figure fired the mounting absurdity of the situation incrementally, with Rosemary and Terry suitably maintaining their composure at first while being talked to as babies and raising the tension as the weaknesses of their relationship opened up and Lucy’s disciplinary action became more outrageous. Drinking Companion and Between Mouthfuls provided plenty of opportunities for comic delivery and well-timed responses and Gosforth's Fete was played with appropriate silliness, befitting the farcical series of events it portrays. Among all the performances the waiter deserves special mention for his facial expressions, glances and excellent comic timing.

Confusions was written and staged in 1974 as an ensemble piece with multiple parts to highlight the abilities of Ayckbourn’s Scarborough actors. It still provides those opportunities but this production had too many hesitant moments and at times came across as under-rehearsed. Forty years on the play seems rather passé and something of an odd choice for the Step in Time Theatre Company of young Loughborough University students. 

Reviews by Richard Beck

Tristan Bates Theatre

Revelation 1:18

★★★★
Tristan Bates Theatre

No Help Sent

★★★★
PRINT ROOM at THE CORONET

The Outsider (L’Étranger)

★★★★
Upstairs at the Gatehouse

Prairie Flower

★★
Jermyn Street Theatre

About Leo

★★★★
Orange Tree Theatre

Losing Venice

★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Five interconnected one act plays: Mother Figure, Drinking Companion, Between Mouthfuls, Gosforth's Fete and A Talk in the Park make up Alan Ayckbourn's classic comedy Confusions. Performed by students at Loughborough University.