published: Tue, 13-Mar-2007 | updated: Wed, 4-Jan-2017
Terry in Mother Figure from Confusions by Alan Ayckbourn for the Dulwich Players, competing in in the NATHDA theatre-in-the-round Drama Festival at St. Philip's Hall, Norbury. Directed by Paul Sykes. Friday 7 June 1985.
This production was a one-performance only deal for the Norbury and Thornton Heath Drama Association's (NATHDA) annual drama festival in the round. You know the kind of thing: you're allowed 10 minutes to set up and 5 to strike, otherwise it's the play, baby. Three separate productions per night, over six days, making 18 individual productions for the festival.
Confusions is a series of one-act plays by Ayckbourn that can be played as one unit — five slices of life, if you like — or that can be played individually as one-acts. For the festival, we chose Mother Figure, which is about a mother, Rosemary, who can't seem to break out of talking in child-speak, even to her neighbors Lucy and Terry. I played Terry, the TV-watching neighbor. (Coincidentally, another of the groups competing did another play from the same set, Gosforth's Fete.)
The only couple of things I really remember about it were, first, it was in the round (that is, with the audience seated all around the set), and, second, the judge for the evening, Colin Dolley, mentioned my performance in particular. He was most struck with how I'd played the audience, keeping the laughter going at a particular point in the play. It was the first time that I'd really felt that ability as a comic actor to understand and play with the audience in that way.
Oh, and despite all that, we didn't win.