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 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Watermill - Confused Love

24th to 27th March 2010.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Love thrown into the mix

Confused Love, at The Watermill, Bagnor, Wednesday, March 24 to Saturday, March 27

Confused Love comprised three short plays: Sganarelle by Molière, and Gosforth’s Fete and A Talk in the Park by Alan Ayckbourn; part of his five-play set Confusions.

First up were The Box Theatre Company with Sganarelle. In this fast-moving comedy of mistaken identity, each of the four main characters (Sganarelle, Celie, Ginger and Lelie) gets the idea that their love has been cheating on them. The play got off to a cracking start with an argument between Gorgibus (Paul Isherwood) and his daughter Celie (Harriet Collins, as a feisty spitfire) and the tremendous pace was kept up all the way through.

Harriet Collins, Neal Murray as Sganarelle, Sanna Ford as Ginger and Jonathan Harding as Lelie were all excellent. Neal Murray, dithery and pusillanimous, gave a splendid comic performance. Fishwife Sanna Ford’s facial expressions and body language were just right, and Jonathan Harding’s soliloquy was convincingly done. A great production by Tracey Donnelly, with strong support from the other actors Adeline Miller and Simon Fenton.

After the interval we had Newbury Dramatic Society. Gosforth’s Fete was a hoot. The overstretched and disorganised Gordon Gosforth (Phil Campbell) struggled valiantly as the weather, the sound system, the cub scouts and the tea urn conspired against him. Jane Minchin, as guest speaker Mrs Pearce, soldiered on stoically, and Caroline Tripp, as tea lady Milly, giggled nervously while her pregnant state was inadvertently announced to the whole crowd, including fiancé Stewart (Ian Martin). There were some good comic performances from the cast, including Roger Burdett as the bumbling vicar, but the pace was generally too slow. Well done Simon Pike, for lighting, effects and sound.

The final play was A Talk in the Park. This was five loosely connected soliloquies by five somewhat dysfunctional people, trying and failing to connect. Here Ayckbourn was in a more serious mood, and there were strong performances from all five: Beth West, Mike Cole, Kathleen Ray, Dave Slade and Mike Brook. It’s difficult to bring much movement into this very static play, but the park bench setting worked well on the Watermill’s small stage. The play, directed by Ann Davidson, provided a thoughtful conclusion to the evening.