Tue 19th – Sat 23rd November 2013


Suzanne Duffy

at 00:56 on 20th Nov 2013



'Confusions' is a series of five one act plays linked, ultimately, by the theme of listening, or not listening, to other people. It provided the perfect showcase for Cambridge's newest acting talent and allowed some of the cast to shine with the promise of a bright future. The first play stood out because of good chemistry between the performers and the wonderful characterisation of Sasha Brooks. Her role as a well meaning but slightly passive-aggressive neighbour who begins to regress to childhood under the influence of the harassed mother who lives next door was very well cast. One of the difficulties of student theatre is lack of age diversity but Brooks has the rare talent of being able to adapt her mannerisms and posture to the age the script requires.

Undoubtedly the comic high of the evening was the penultimate play about an very British fete that is interrupted by a distinctly un-British revelation, leading to the most hilarious kind of chaos. Lily Lindon's anxious hand-wringing and exclamations of 'gosh' along with her manic determination that the fete would go to plan were excellently managed. Kyle Turakhia also shone as the vicar which required a radical change of approach from his role in the second play as Harry the lecherous, drunken businessman. This second play was the only one that can really be said to have fallen flat. That is not to say it did not have its redeeming features, like Julia Kass's wonderfully disgusted facial expressions which said a thousand words, or Turakhia's solid impression of a man slowly dissolving into inebriation. Perhaps the problem really lay in the tricky nature of Alan Ayckbourn's script at this point; it is difficult to perform a play about a man who is an enormous bore without it becoming boring.

There was some clever staging by director George Kan in the play set in a restaurant. The audience could only hear what the couples sat at restaurant tables were arguing about when the waiter could also hear them. This serves not only to display the tremendous comic talent of Elanor Colville, the hapless waiter in question, but also referred subtly back to the first play. Just as the distinct type of psychology we apply to children is revealed as absurd when we practice it on adults, so the everyday social situations we find ourselves in, such as being sat in a restaurant, are questioned through this comedy. While it was very funny and the audience were frequently in stitches, watch out for the last play which ties up all the serious themes that have been emerging throughout in a successful and thought-provoking way.


Kayte Williams

at 13:44 on 20th Nov 2013



You and I both know that in Cambridge, you meet a lot of similar people. So you would have thought that the characters of Ayckbourn's 'Confusions', including a crochetty old man, a harried mother and a doughty Councillor Mrs Pearce, would be a real challenge for students. But they really rise to the challenge, Ryan Monk in particular, and it feels like you're seeing the whole range of humanity on the ADC theatre stage.

All the five scenes are both funny and moving; the melodrama is very well played, and just when you're expecting the drama and tragedic to come to a heartbreaking climax, the actor comes out with “I like dogs”, out of the blue. There are some really hilarious moments, especially in the fourth village-fête scene where Ayckbourn's trademark of everything going wrong at once results in a ridiculous yet somehow believable accidental electrocution. Sasha Brooks and Lily Lindon really embody the play's ideas, playing downtrodden women who are really suffering yet carry on worrying about the details of everyday life – should I accept the reversed-charges call? Is 350 teacups going to be enough? In the final scene the director George Kan shows clearly what the play's all about, how each of us is searching for someone to talk to but unwilling to listen to anyone else. It may sound grim, but it's actually delightful to step into so many people's lives – not least for wonderful gossipy affairs which are treated with humour and sympathy.

You might think the five scenes would blend into each other, but the sets put each scene firmly in its place. Strewn toys and nappies evoke the home of a real harried mother, while a ginormous screen arrangement shows us the Tea Tent, not to be confused with the Main Marquee of course. The scene changes seemed to be choreographed like a dance, with tablecloth-placing perfectly in time. This was mostly very impressive, but a mistimed curtain falling on two tables and assorted glasses, not to mention four actors, went down very well in the audience for all the wrong reasons.

One fault you could find is the length of the speeches, especially Kyle Turakhia's in the second scene. His line-learning skills are monumental, as is his variety, going from an arrogant and lascivious businessman to a nervous and ineffectual vicar. However, we got the hang of his character long before the scene ended, and often the smaller parts seemed to be the best – Olivia Bowman and Julia Kass as women patiently sitting through businessman Harry's unwelcome advances, for instance, and Eleanor Colville struggling to keep serving dinner as two marriages fall apart before her eyes, to her (and our) amusement.

So there's some really skilled, arresting acting in 'Confusions', moving to the point of tears, yet the characters' secret loves and obsessions – we all have them – charm us into worrying along with poor Doreen about her dog at the vet's. You'll feel secret victories as the bigwigs of society, councillors and businessmen, are undermined by wives and waiters, and you'll love stepping into other people's hilarious, everyday lives. Really, I think you will like it.


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