Written by Alan Ayckbourn

Mon 6th, Tues 7th & Thurs 9th December 1999

Directed by Janet Simpson, Neil Pugmire & David Hill

Eavesdrop on people and situations carefully orchestrated with delicate theatrical ingenuity. These painstakingly-created, suburban problems are symbols of universal insecurities and anxieties. The "mirror held up to nature" reflecting, through comedy and farce, the often tragic undertones of our contemporary society.

AuthorAlan Ayckbourn

Alan Ayckbourn (b 1939)

Alan Ayckbourn is one of the most prolific and widely performed of living English language playwrights and a highly regarded theatre director. He has written 74 full length plays and has won Olivier, Tony and Moliere Awards for his work.

Ayckbourn was born in Hampstead and wrote his first play at prep school when he was about 10. After leaving school at 17, he began a temporary job at the Scarborough Library Theatre. In 1957, he married Christine Roland, another member of the company, and his first two plays were written jointly with her under the pseudonym of "Roland Allen". They had two sons, however the marriage had difficulties which eventually led to their separation in 1971. Neither he nor Christine sought a divorce for the next thirty years and it was only in 1997 that they formally divorced after which Ayckbourn married Heather Stoney.

In 1962 he became Associate Director of the Victoria Theatre Stoke-on-Trent and two years later he was a Radio Drama Producer for the BBC in Leeds. Ayckbourn established himself as a popular playwright in the the 1960s achieving West End successes with 'Relatively Speaking' and 'How The Other Half Loves' In the 70s he returned to Scarborough as the Director of Productions.

In 2007, following a stroke announced he would step down from his then current role as Artistic Director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre. Ayckbourn, however, continues to write and direct his own work at the theatre and in 2009, his contribution to theatre was recognised by the Olivier's Special Award.


'Confusions' consists of a series of five interconnected one-act plays; 'Mother Figure', 'Drinking Companion', 'Between Mouthfuls', 'Gosforth's Fete' and 'A Talk in the Park'. First staged in 1976 and played by just five actors, the scenes are all loosely linked by characters or locations, but more subtly through the common underlying themes of obsession, isolation and human desire for companionship. For this production, Insiders chose to perform 'Between Mouthfuls' and 'Gosforth's Fete'.

'Between Mouthfuls' - In a hotel (the same in fact as one used as a setting for 'Drinking Companions') two couples at adjoining restaurant tables realise an unwelcome common bond, assisted by an interactive waiter. Mrs Pearce wonders who Mr Pearce is sleeping with. Polly's not been frank to Martin. The waiter is extremely well spoken. There's clever direction of the alternation between the two sets of conversations. A twist to the plot-line spices the ending.

Gosforth's Fete - Publican Gosforth is running the village gala. Due to a big mistake bad personal news from Milly Carter is publicised over the public-address system. Milly's fiancé Stewart Stokes becomes extremely aggravated and drowns his sorrows with alcohol. Councillor Mrs Pearce, after the most disorganised greeting is electrocuted by the PA system. 'Gosforth's Fete' starts like all village fetes do. However it develops into chaos and as things continue to go wrong the play climaxes to a complete disaster.

This Production

Confusions poster image

Insiders was a drama company formed by Bench Theatre which included inmates and tutors from Kingston Prison, Portsmouth.

These two one-act plays were staged at Kingston Prison to audiences of inmates and specially invited Bench members.

Cast - Between Mouthfuls

Mr PearceChris H
Mrs PearceSue Dawes
PollyZoë Chapman
MartinFin S
WaiterRob K
DoormanPeter T

Cast - Gosforth's Fete

Mrs PearceJudy Bodenham
Milly CarterKizzy Harris
Stewart StokesGrant W
GosforthIan H
VicarTim Taylor
Old Mr DurbanPeter T


Directors Janet Simpson
Neil Pugmire
David Hill
Producer Judy Bodenham
Assistant Stage Managers Rachel Rowe
Jim F
Lighting Andy W
Programme Kingston Prison Print Shop
Photography Ben S