Review: AndGo Presents: Confusions @ Chapter
It's not every day that a new theatrical company is created. But this is andGo Productions first performance, along with Alice In Wonderland Jr. They have decided to dip back into the archive and pick out a 1970s classic: Confusions by Alan Ayckbourn. He is very much a writer of his time and sums up the decade very well.
I certainly wasn't around back then but my mother recalls it being a fairly enjoyable era. It's sad that our generation can find anything from then hardly appealing or even vintage. But at the age of 73, Ayckbourn is still going strong with 77 plays under his belt, along with a CBE and numerous awards and other honours.
The evening consists of five miniature plays. All are related of sorts with interlinking characters and locations. The names are Mother Figure, Drinking Companion, Between Mouthfuls, Gosforth's Fete and A Talk In The Park.
It was whilst glancing at the programme before the performance that I realised that two of these plays I had in fact performed in high school for my GCSE in Drama.
I played Trevor in Mother Figure and Mr. Pearce in Between Mouthfuls. Both roles I greatly enjoyed playing, particularly the latter. Memories came gushing back as I saw the two plays again. But Drinking Companion is certainly not a play to be done by young acting students. The innuendo and near sexual menace of the character of Harry almost becomes extreme and quite uncomfortable.
Ayckbourn revels in the relations of friend and family. His married couples in his plays are very realistic and the humour helps the bitterness of how upsettingly realistic these characters are. How should we act in a relationship? Are we condemned to always do the wrong thing? These concerns cross my mind when I think of his work, even through the humour.
It has to be Between Mouthfuls that is most humorous, but A Talk In The Park is the most memorable. The only relation to the plays before it was it being the same location of the park used for the fete. We see five entirely unrelated characters to the main thread of the story. Each speaks to another uninterested person, setting of a clever symmetrical system of no one wanting to talk to anybody even though they crave it. I could see this being done by Samuel Beckett, granted it would be more abstract and bleak if he would have done it.
It brings up the whole point about speaking to strangers. What's the point in pouring your heart out to somebody you don't even know and more importantly does not give a hoot? You will most likely never see this person again. I find it hard to depart from a stranger once I have been engrossed in conversation with them. What do you say as a parting of ways? What can be said?
These fives little tableaux still hold weight today even if the fashion certainly doesn't (I tried not to snigger when seeing one of the cast in bell bottom trousers). The actors playing multiple roles delivered nice eccentricities in certain roles and some depth of character (as much that could be thrown in) in others.
All in all, a funny evening by a new company of which I hope to see more.
Here's to more of the same and obscure plays as well!