7 - 12 February, 2022
Tenterden Town Hall
Confusions by Alan Ayckbourn
Confusions is a set of five interlinked one act plays: Mother Figure, Drinking Companion, Between Mouthfuls, Gosforth’s Fete and A Talk in the Park, Each play deals riotously, but with sharply pointed undertones, with human eccentricities and the human dilemma of loneliness; a mother unable to escape from baby talk, a disastrous fete, an unsuccessful seduction attempt, a fate fraught dinner encounter and the final play sums up with five self immolated characters on park benches.
Associate Director – Heather Barnes
This is a unique opportunity for members and would-be members to direct one of the five productions. Heather Barnes is the overall Director and is heading this, our first full production back. 2022 is going to be a very good year!
Lucy is a mother of three, a house-bound wife who rarely sees her husband Harry and has reached the point where she barely bothers to look after herself as so much of her time and attention is centred on the children. Not answering the phone or the door, neighbours Rosemary and Terry come round with news that Lucy’s husband Harry has been calling and is worried at not getting a response. So used to dealing with nothing but children, Lucy proceeds to treat her visitors as children. Terry’s attempts to engage in conversation highlight the cracks in his own relationship and he upsets Rosemary. Angered by his ‘naughty’ behaviour, Lucy demands he apologise and Terry leaves only to return having locked himself out of the house. Despite attempting to threaten to Lucy, she stands up to him and forces him to apologise to Rosemary, only letting them leave after they’ve drunk their milk. They leave as a frustrated Harry is shown trying to phone his wife from a hotel…
Harry is in a hotel bar and returns from trying to phone his wife to talk to an attractive younger woman, Paula, sat on her own. Harry, who fancies himself as a ladies’ man, clumsily tries to chat her up, but she deflects his increasingly unsubtle suggestions. They are joined by Bernice, who works with Paula and has been waiting for her in the foyer. Harry also starts hitting on Bernice, whilst offering an insight into his sad life and marriage. Impatient to go elsewhere, Bernice and Paula try to make their excuses to leave before Harry plays his trump card, putting the key to his room on the table in case the girls want ‘to pick it up’. The girls make their excuses and Harry tries to get the Waiter to phone a cab for them, who refuses. Realising he’s getting nowhere with Bernice, Harry pushes his room key ‘with no strings attached’ into Paula’s hand as she leaves the bar. Not wanting to bump into Harry again, the girls ask the Waiter if there’s another way out, he directs them to a side entrance reminding Paula to leave the key as they leave.
In the hotel’s restaurant, the same Waiter is serving dinner to a middle-aged businessman Donald Pearce and his wife Emma. As they make their choices, the Waiter moves away and the dialogue between the Pearces fades out; from this point, we hear only what the Waiter hears when he is within earshot of one of the two tables. Polly and Martin enter the restaurant and are seated at another table, despite Martin wanting to go elsewhere as he works for Donald. As the meals progress, it emerges Donald has just returned from a business trip to Italy, although his wife suspects he was doing more than business and demands to know who he has been having an affair with. Martin is regaling Polly, who has also been away too, about how he practically ran the business single-handed without Donald. Polly, increasingly irate at Martin’s lack of interest in their relationship, asks him if he even noticed she’d been away for three weeks. Patently not, she reveals she has just been in Rome with Donald. Martin takes the news badly, but only in the light of his promotion prospects and his future in the business should Emma find out. Polly storms out, outraged Martin has no regard whatsoever for their marriage. Emma, meanwhile, utterly frustrated at Donald’s lies, flips his plate onto his lap and leaves the restaurant. On his way to clear up, Donald notices Martin and offers to buy him a drink and his meal as a thank-you for all Martin’s work while he was in Rome. They leave together as the Waiter clears up the mess.
○ Mrs Pearce
A tea tent is being prepared for an afternoon fête into which Councillor Emma Pearce enters and meets Milly, who is organising the tea. Emma notes how the wolf cub pack, meant to be doing a PT display, are currently throwing stones at a caravan. The divorced, local landlord Gosforth enters, also berating the cub pack, who introduces himself to Emma. He is rather pre-occupied with organising the event, particularly the broken sound-system and the ominous thunder clouds overhead. The local vicar arrives and Emma is handed over to him while Gosforth tries to repair the tannoy amplifier. As he attempts to do this, Milly tells him she is pregnant with his child and worries what her fiancé, Stewart, will say. Gosforth is horrified to realise the tannoy is now working just as the furious scout-master Stewart enters, threatening to kill Gosforth having heard everything. Milly manages to turn off the tannoy and gives Stewart a glass of sherry to calm him down. The rain starts and Gosforth drags the rostrum in from the rain, which Stewart was in the midst of putting up when he heard the news. Stewart, drinking more than he should and unconcerned his wolf pack cub are running riot, hears Milly’s explanation of what happened. She leaves and the vicar reveals that actually everyone in the village knew about the affair. Gosforth decides to start the fête and switches on the amplifier, whilst Stewart continues to throw abuse at him before collapsing and singing to himself. Gosforth begins his speech whilst the vicar pours himself a cup of tea from an urn above the amplifier, but finds he can’t turn the urn-tap off and he and Milly desperately try to catch the water in tea cups. Emma, now mud-covered from getting lost and drenched from the rain, takes to the platform to deliver her speech as Gosforth also tries to turn off the urn. He manages this but not before water has flooded into the amplifier, electrocuting Emma on the rostrum. She is levered from the mic-stand, which the vicar accidentally grabs. Gosforth smacks him away from the stand and catches Emma as she collapses. As Emma babbles incoherently, the marching band strikes up outside the tent and Gosforth takes to the rostrum to restore calm. There is a bang as the scaffolding collapses under the weight of the unseen wolf cubs, who fall into the path of the marching band. Amidst the chaos, Gosforth leans on the unfinished rostrum guard-rail, which collapses and he falls out of the tent.
A Talk In The Park
Four people are sat on four park benches in a park. Arthur arrives and asks if the seat by Beryl is empty. He proceeds to talk and Beryl moves to the next bench because he won’t stop talking. She sits next to Charlie and begins talking about her abusive husband leading Charlie to move away and sit next to Doreen to start talking about the state of his life. Doreen – Gosforth’s ex-wife – believing she is about to be attacked, moves to sit next to Ernest and begins talking about her fears and her dogs. Ernest creeps away to Arthur, bemoaning the fact this woman started talking to him and telling an unconcerned Arthur about his life. This turns into a round as each person tries to get the attention of the person next to them, who ignores them leaving Arthur to note, ‘might as well talk to yourself.’