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Theater review: 'Confusions' at the Lost Studio

January 22, 2010 |  4:30 am

400.CONFUSIONSNeilWhiteWilcoxBadie Produced shortly after his hit 1973 trilogy, “The Norman Conquests,” Alan Ayckbourn’s “Confusions,” an evening of playlets designed specifically as a vehicle for Ayckbourn’s indigenous Scarborough company, suffers a bit by comparison to its predecessor.  Charming but uneven, “Confusions” seems a bagatelle in Ayckbourn’s extraordinarily prolific career.  However, under the direction of John Pleshette, the current production at the Lost Studio remains a sterling showcase for a game cast.

The show is bookended by the controversially glum “A Talk in the Park,” a series of randomly linked monologues about emotional isolation that seems misplaced in this comical context.  Another problematic offering is “Between Mouthfuls,” in which a brace of bickering couples, linked by a common infidelity, are only audible when in the presence of their dim-witted waiter – a one-note joke that runs on too long.

“Drinking Companions” details the increasingly comical efforts of a boozy traveling salesman (hilarious Brendan Hunt, a standout in multiple roles) to seduce a couple of perfume reps (Phoebe James and Abigail Revasch).  Also long-winded, the piece is nonetheless a scathing character study that artfully emphasizes the prevalent theme about the need for human connection, however shallow or flawed.

Satisfyingly silly, “Mother Figure,” the second offering, features funny Mina Badie as a fed-up mom who treats her obnoxiously macho neighbor (Steve Wilcox) and his downtrodden wife (Revasch) like a couple of recalcitrant toddlers.  The crowning gem of the bill, “Gosforth’s Fete,” features Bridget Ann White as an oh-so-proper British matron who has been recruited to open a charity fete and Adrian Neil as the civic-minded pub owner trying to stop the event’s inexorable slide into chaos. It's a breezy and beautifully crafted farce that will leave you howling.

– F. Kathleen Foley

“Confusions,” the Lost Studio, 130 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles.  8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 4 p.m. Sundays.  Ends March 7.  $25.  (323) 960-5775. www.plays411.com/confusions.  Running time:  2 hours, 15 minutes.

Photo: Adrian Neil, Bridget Ann White, Steve Wilcox and Mina Badie. Credit: From the Lost Studio.

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