Confusions with Alan Ayckbourn directing at Stephen Joseph

Confusions cast with Alan Ayckbourn. Photo Jordan Lonsdale
Confusions cast with Alan Ayckbourn. Photo Jordan Lonsdale

Alan Ayckbourn is back in the directing chair at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre for the first revival of his 1974 comedy, Confusions, this summer.

Confusions premiered at the company’s first home, the Library Theatre, Scarborough and has since become one of the most popular and studied new plays of the last 40 years.

It runs at the SJT from July 9 to September 26 and its official opening night coincides with the theatre’s 60th anniversary on July 14.

From a devoted and isolated mother, to her unfaithful travelling salesman husband, through a solicitous waiter to well-heeled diners and an utterly shambolic garden fete, human frailty is laid bare as one hilarious situation after another unfolds.

Each of the plays connects to the next through one of its characters until the final one is reached when four people sit alone on park benches.

From high farce to poignant observation; the laughs, however dark, keep coming.

Alan Ayckbourn said: “Confusions is an interesting stepping stone for me as you can see where the future is – Absent Friends, but you can also see the past – How The Other Half Loves – which is pure situation.

“It was written at a time when I wanted theatre to primarily show off actors, I still do really, but in those days I thought people loved the idea of actors playing different roles and becoming different people.

“There is something marvellous about that which is still peculiarly theatrical; if an actor becomes someone right in front of your very eyes or changes from one person to another, you can still believe there’s a bit of magic somewhere.”

Stephen Billington and Emma Manton make their debut with the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the production.

On television, Stephen is known for playing Coronation Street villain Greg Kelly and recently Danny Lomax in Hollyoaks. Theatre credits include The Crucible at York Theatre Royal and in film he has worked with directors Franco Zeffirelli, Peter Greenaway and Mel Gibson.

Emma Manton appeared last year with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Love’s Labour’s Lost and Love’s Labour’s Won. She has performed at the National Theatre and in Nicholas Nickleby at Chichester Festival Theatre and in the West End. Television roles include Emma in Ricky Gervais’ BBC series The Office.

The cast also includes Russell Dixon, Richard Stacey and Elizabeth Boag. They will also be appearing later in the season in the premiere of Alan Ayckbourn’s 79th play, Hero’s Welcome, when they will be joined by a sixth company member Terenia Edwards, a recent graduate from London’s Central School of Speech and Drama.

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