‘Confusions’ consists of five playlets about eccentric lonely people. They were written in 1974 by prolific British playwright and director Sir Alan Ayckbourn. Sir Alan who was 80 this year, has written and produced more than seventy full-length plays. He still lives in Yorkshire and because the Scarborough Theatre were kind enough to put on his first play, he still gives them the honour of putting on his Premieres.
This production is hosted by PAANDA (The Performing Arts Association of Notre Dame Australia) at 25 Mouat Street in Fremantle. The Performances, which are two hours, can be seen nightly at 7.00 until Saturday 9 November.
The scene: about 2010
The set: The floor-level stage is surrounded by black drapes. There are very few pieces of furniture in the 5 plays, but the props were numerous and well selected. The stage crew were the actors, who worked smoothly, quietly and were well organised. ‘Between Mouthfuls’ required a great number of food courses, drinks and crockery changes so congratulations to the Set and Props Gang of Anna Stewart, Thomas Bloffwitch, Zakaria Hourani, Kirralee Coulter, Justine Ralph, Lachlan Stewart, Zachary Bevan and Kate Muir.
The shows were cleverly stage managed by Liv Trahair. To ensure maintaining the pace of the programme, the second play started as soon as the first had finished. The lead actor, Harry, stepped to the front of the stage into a red spotlight and chatted to his wife on the telephone while major set changes took place behind him.
‘Mother Figure’ directed by Troy Coelho
Faced with a constantly screaming child, Lucy (Georgia Collie) is worn out. She stays indoors, never answers the telephone and rarely gets out of her pyjamas. Her husband Harry works away and after frantic attempts to contact Lucy, he asks their bubbly neighbour Rosemary (Anna Stewart) and her chauvinistic husband Terry (Will Evans) to pop around to see if Lucy is well.
The neighbours are shocked by Lucy’s welcome.
Every parent will laugh and even squirm at this delightful play. We have all been there and done that! Often finding ourselves talking down to friends as though they were our children. Well directed and acted, it brought plenty of smiles.
‘Drinking Companion’ directed by Hannah Quaden
In a mediocre hotel, lecherous Harry (Michael Allan – what a huge talent), husband of Lucy in the previous play, tries his luck with a perfume saleswoman, Paula (Ella Gorringe). Harry, who thinks that he is the suavest lover ever and that he is totally irresistible, tries some blatant jaw-dropping advances. As Paula enjoys the free drinks supplied by Harry’s business account, her work friend Bernice (Luci Waters) arrives. The waiter (Audrey Poor) is given a minimal tip.
Is this going to be Harry’s lucky night?
What a riotous play. It relies upon a high-quality cast and this group were especially good. The girls won the hearts of the audience as they fought back against the slimy, amorous egotist. Even the waiter in his own subtle way was hilarious. Loved it, fabulous characterisation.
‘Between Mouthfuls’ directed by Anna Stewart
In the dining room of a hotel, a couple ask for a table for two. Just as the waiter (Audrey Poor) is showing them to their place, the lady, Polly (Georgia Cole) spots her husband’s boss, Mr Pearce (Thomas Desmond). He is with Mrs Pearce (Jessie Appleyard) and they are having an argument. Polly suggests to her husband Martin (Will Evans) that they leave quickly and find somewhere else to dine. Too late, they are condemned to eating at adjoining tables.
The action alternates between tables, the tolerant waiter being the link, as their food trolley rolls back and forth between the diners. The actors often had to stop mid-sentence as the action moved to the other table and then start full flow when their action returned; there is a real art making this look natural and the group really nailed it.
‘Gosforth’s Fete’ directed by Ella Gorringe
Local publican Gordon Gosforth (Hannah Quaden) is running the village gala. Young Milly (Georgia Collie) is in charge of the tea and coffee stall, whilst she guards the announcement system. A private conversation is broadcast over the public-address system. Milly’s fiancé Stewart (Will Evans) becomes extremely upset and as he drowns his sorrows, Councillor Mrs Pearce (Jessie Appleyard) arrives with the vicar (Troy Coelho) to open the fête.
How will this fun day finish?
The cast worked well, but the writing was not as clever and tight as the other plays. Perhaps a little too silly. NOT a PAANDA problem. Well done to all concerned, still enjoyable.
‘A Talk in the Park’ directed by Cat Acres
In the village park just after Gosforth’s fête, five strangers are seated on separate park benches, happily minding their own business. When weird and nerdy Arthur (Michael Allan) sits next to Beryl (Luci Waters) he starts to rant about his likes and dislikes. Beryl, who is covered in bruises, finds him creepy and moves over to the next bench and Charles (Troy Coelho). She reads him a letter from ‘bastard’ husband, but Charles becomes stressed and excusing himself, moves over and sits next to a dog-loving bag lady, Doreen (Audrey Poor). Charles is on the verge of bankruptcy and so asks Doreen to help him understand his accounts. Doreen thinks he is chatting her up, so she sits next to Ernest (Thomas Desmond) who is relaxing on the neighbouring bench. He becomes very annoyed at being disturbed by a woman obsessed by her dog.
Having five different directors gave a fresh approach to each play. Even though the characters overlapped, the directors were inventive, and we got a new insight into different corners of their personalities.
The costume supervisor was Shannon Gee. The hair and makeup were the skilled work of Madeleine Buckland and Jessie Appleyard. The sound system was most impressive with a most realistic thunderstorm. The lighting rig was limited but the techies Catherine Acres and Bonnie-Jo MacLeod managed to get some wonderful atmospheres.
A most enjoyable night out. At only $10 a ticket, who could wish for more? ONLY TWO SHOWS LEFT.