This week in the Theatre Royal is an absolute treat for Ayckbourn fans. The stalwart comedy “Confusions” is touring alongside the brand new “Hero’s Welcome,” which marks Ayckbourn’s 79th play.
“Confusions” was a huge West End hit when it opened in 1974 and has remained a favourite with audiences; the cast of five actors play over twenty roles in the five sharp and witty, interlinked, one-act plays. In true Ayckbourn fashion, the characters are part of dysfunctional marriages whilst some are grappling with extra martial affairs or just desperate for attention.  
There are moments of great fun; the opening play “Mother Figure” has a lightness of touch with Emma Manton as the exhausted, multi tasking mother finding a simple yet effective way of dealing with her neighbours.
The whole production is simple in format, with the comedy building to “Gosforth’s Fete” and then changing to a much darker, more reflective tone and disjointed dialogue in the final “A Talk in the Park.”
This is very much an ensemble piece the simple multipurpose set from Michael Holt (Designer) allows the plays to merge seamlessly and allowing a good challenge to actors throughout.
Ayckbourn remains a firm favourite with theatre goers; the comedy belongs to a certain era and yet the issues are as current as ever. Ayckbourn has been writings for 57 years and 2016 sees the premiere of his 79th production. An extraordinary record by any standards “Hero’s Welcome” can be seen tonight and Friday; later in the year it heads off to the 2016 Brits off Broadway Festival. If you like classic Ayckbourn, then this week is for you.

Petra Schofield