Confusions

Fri 29th – Sat 30th November 2013

reviews

Dan Pront

at 02:00 on 1st Dec 2013

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Even within somewhat limited circumstances, HCTC’s production of Ayckbourn’s ‘Confusions’ enabled a tremendously talented cast to deliver a fun-filled evening. Structured as five mini, one-act plays unified in their depiction of middle class woes and suburban hysteria, ‘Confusions’ offers an entertaining yet reflective perspective on the banalities of everyday life. Whilst the interconnectedness of each of the plays was somewhat questionable and logistically challenging for the cast, there was definitely opportunity to be creative and dynamic.

The opening play “Mother Figure” was exceedingly well executed and arguably best conveyed the underlying themes of obsessive behaviour and isolation. Ellis-Anne Dunmall’s portrayal of infantile single mother Lucy Compton’s obscure behaviour was excellent and this was complimented by the role of the concerned neighbour Rosemary, and chauvinist Terry amusingly illustrated by the burly Benjamin Butterworth.

The second play “Drinking Companions” humorously demonstrated Mr Compton’s raunchy behaviour on his business trips where he actively harasses pretty young ladies in hotel bars. Nick Denton was exceedingly well suited to this role and his snorting laugh and sleazy facial expressions were well received by the audience. It was perhaps a shame that the scene tended to drag on by covering much of the same ground and thus losing its comedic novelty.

The successive “Between Mouthfuls” saw the awkward ordeal of two sets of unfaithful couples sitting at adjourning tables in the same hotel restaurant. This was a remarkably well-acted part of the play and special credit should go to Peter Lock’s camp, interfering waiter and hilarious crotch-drying skills after one gentleman’s pretentious wife chucked a plate of food over his trousers. There were a few strange silences in between the two different conversations, but it did not detract from the confident performances given by all the actors in this part of the play.

Linked by the snooty wife Emma Pearce’s role as village councillor in the following, “Gosforth’s Fete” was by far the liveliest part of the play. The messy and chaotic organisation of the village fair was very well demonstrated by the cast yet unfortunately the limited aesthetics that plague many student productions became rather apparent.

The closing “A Talk in the Park” I found rather disappointing. Clearly moralistic in its demonstration of human ignorance and self-absorption, the fault here mainly lies in the play itself. However, Emily Ellet’s character, Doreen, was a particular favourite of mine, portraying the cliché, batty dog-lover roaming every country park.

Overall the arty, fragmented nature of the play lent itself to letting specific individuals shine and for great moments of comedy. Special praise is in order for director Guy Sargent, who carefully achieved that difficult balance of comedy and reflection in this production.

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