After a three month gap, it was with great delight that a group of Friends gathered in the theatre bar to welcome the cast and company of Confusions on their first night in Eastbourne on the penultimate week of their UK tour.

The cast and Company. Back Row (l-r): Emma Lang (ASM), Jane Williamson (Deputy SM), Philippa Flynn (understudy), Emma Manton. Middle :(l-r): Jennifer Hirst (CSM), Elizabeth Board, Russell Dixon. Front: Nik Drake (understudy), Stephen Billington. (Not pictured - Richard Stacey)

The Cast and Company
Back Row (l-r): Emma Lang (ASM), Jane Williamson (Deputy SM), Philippa Flynn (understudy), Emma Manton.
Middle :(l-r): Jennifer Hirst (CSM), Elizabeth Board, Russell Dixon. Front: Nik Drake (understudy), Stephen Billington. (Not pictured – Richard Stacey)

Confusions, written by Alan Ayckbourn in 1974 – the year his hugely successful Norman Conquests trilogy opened in the West End to great acclaim – is a collection of five loosely connected one-act plays and was originally written to showcase the talents of five actors in a total of twenty roles!  This production, more than forty years later, has not only stood the test of time but gave the opportunity for the extremely talented cast to demonstrate their craft to great effect.

Back Row (l-r): Emma Manton, Elizabeth Boag, Stephen Billington Fron: Richard Stacey, Russell Dixon

Back Row (l-r): Emma Manton, Elizabeth Boag, Stephen Billington
Front: Richard Stacey, Russell Dixon

Although set in the 1970s, unlike many of Ayckbourn’s plays, it has stood the test of time – largely perhaps because so many of the situations contained within the five plays still resonate with the audience: the stay at home mum who communicates to everyone as if they were children; the away-from-home salesman ‘on the pull’; the disastrous summer fête and the discomfort of being confronted by strangers on a park bench who want to engage in conversation.  All probably as relevant today as when they were written more than forty years ago!

The skill of this five-strong cast in depicting their very different roles in these five plays was excellent and it was a joy to meet and chat to them – although many were unrecognisable, so clever had been the costumes and wigs.

Unusually, for four of the actors it was their first time appearing in Eastbourne but we hope to see them back again soon.  In the meantime, we wish them luck when they take the production to New York in May.  We were sad to learn that Emma Manton would be missing out on this as she was unable to be away from her small son for so long – her compensation being that, thanks to a sister who lives in the city, she would be joining them at half-term!