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KATS - Confusions

26th to 28th July 2018

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Fun-five from Ayckbourn

Kennet Amateur Theatrical Society: Confusions, at Bucklebury Memorial Hall, from Thursday, July 26, to Saturday, July 28

The five short one-act plays that make up Confusions were written by Alan Ayckbourn to keep his actors busy through the bleak winter of 1974. He planned for them to be performed by just five actors doubling-up parts and the first West End London performance was in 1975.

The fifth and last play, A Talk In The Park was for four actors, although Kats condensed part of it down to three players and called it On The Bench, maybe to reduce the overall running time.

The opener, Mother Figure, featured a woman – well-observed by Carrie Marsh – left on her own for long stretches with just the children, who speaks to her neighbours Rosemary and Terry as though they were children: "drink up your orange juice Rosemary – no, you can't have the key to your house Terry until you apologise to Rosemary for drinking her juice". Eileen Paula and Alan Unnuk played up well as the adults-turned-children.

The second play showed us Harry, played slimily by Andrew Smith, trying to seduce a woman in the hotel he is staying at and plying her with drinks, along with her friend, played by Ali Brownfield and Cindy Bunch. Amanda Taylor was the waitress – polite but bored – and, in her position in a bar upstage right, was well-placed to upstage the other actors; a temptation best avoided.

Between Mouthfuls was set in the same hotel, where two couples eat and talk. Keith Phillips, Janet Kilgallon-Brook, Joe Rollinson and Fiona Sinsbury all worked hard and were convincing in their characterisations. Mike Cole was very impressive as an obsequious waiter, always hovering close-by. As one man said: "He likes to mix business with..." "Shrimps sir," bellows the waiter.

Eileen Paula was a woman on the bench, with Alan Unnuk and Janet Kilgallon-Brook, before Mike Cole turned up again as Gosforth (enjoying himself enormously), running a fete that really was worse than death in Gosforth's Fete.

This riotous comedy – almost farce at times – produced some extremely good performances, with Keith Phillips as a bungling vicar and Amanda Taylor doing very well portraying a snooty woman who gets covered in mud and rain and nearly electrocuted near the end. Fiona Sinsbury returned for a more sympathetic part as Milly and Joe Rollinson hammed it up as the drunken Stuart.

Curtain calls after each play might have been a good idea, if only to mark out the endings and beginnings.

Overall, the acting was strong and direction smooth on all these very funny pieces.