A right old mix up

16th February 1996 at 00:00
Absences might be the subtitle for Ayckbourn's five plays in one, Confusions. In Mother Figure Joanna Myers' Lucy has her maternal mode triggered by questions about Harry's absence.

In the next three sections it is absences from home which have led to secret sexual liaisons, while the final A talk in the Park is peopled by characters who have exempted themselves from social living. In the cinema, this would be a source for Confusions II.

After a promising opening, the scenes fare variably in Gareth Tudor Price's production. At best it shows how important visual humour is in Ayckbourn, yet Drinking Companion is static in movement and character, Christopher Timothy's sober Harry exudes menace beneath bluster but misses the character's tragedy. While Ms Myers' ingenuous Paula lacks the ambiguity implied in her keeping Harry's room key.

In contrast, Between Mouthfuls has a rich variety. Timothy gives the Waiter a wide-ranging expressiveness through vocal tones and quick gestures.

Timothy is credibly fascistic in Gosforths' Fete where Mrs Pearce enters glaringly in the blue she claimed never to wear. The piece is only marred by a stereotyped vicar.

Timothy Ramsden Confusions is on at Guildford Arnaud February 19-24; Poole Towngate March 11-16, Chichester Festival Theatre March 18-23

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