Share |

How the Other Half Loves - Alan Ayckbourn (Theatre Royal Windsor & UK Tour)

Published by: Kate Braxton on 3rd Sep 2017 | View all blogs by Kate Braxton

It was Bill Kenright who produced the first UK tour of this hit comedy in 1973. This week, with 44 years of mileage, he waves it off on a new run from Windsor following an acclaimed West End revival.  

Its success as a work today proves Ayckbourn’s entertainment value to be timeless.  Although the language, social status commentary and hard-wired telephone props tie it to the late Sixties/early Seventies, the underlying human traits strike today’s virtual chord good and clearly.

The action involves 3 couples of varying age and standing, and both Bob Phillips and William Featherstone are employed by Frank Foster. At the centre of the piece, Frank is tirelessly trying to fathom out what is going on around him. Although he fails to see it, his own wife Fiona is having an affair with Bob, who is in constant conflict with his wife Teresa who feels neglected while raising their baby and is suspicious of his behavior.

The contrasting relationships here help the audience to follow the intertwined plot: one polite, evasive and ‘listening-not-listening’, the other screamy-shouty Corrieastenders styley and we cleverly find ourselves in both living rooms at once, experiencing two different home lives in full simultaneous flow.

A third couple, William and Mary Featherstone, are essentially used as alibis surrounding the affair and both Bob and Fiona have sworn their respective spouses to secrecy over the rumoured red herring infidelities of the innocent couple. All a bit of a ‘Whodunnit?(Ooer)’ for Frank.

The first act culminates in a brilliantly choreographed dinner table scene, which is actually two parties happening on successive nights, with The Featherstones attending each one. Genius!

Robert Daws is exquisite as the flummoxed Frank. He, with Caroline Langrishe as wife, Fiona, provide rich comic artistry and stage experience, along with glorious performances from Matthew Cottle, reprising his role of William from the West End and Sara Crowe’s hilariously awkward Mary. 

Leon Ockenden, best known for his role of Will Chatterton in Coronation Street strides onto the stage with a pec-load of presence, and Charlie Brooks’ Teresa is brash and feisty. While both will appeal to the popular soap audiences, their appreciation of Ayckbourn’s comedy is noticeably less mature than the other actors.  

 

Director, Alan Strachan has worked alongside Ayckbourn for many years, and the depth of his appreciation of the piece is reflected in its slick coordination.  This is a very challenging play to direct, with two scenes taking place simultaneously, and in his own words, “it’s one of the most difficult I’ve ever come across. The concentration required is just extraordinary.” Yet he makes it look easy. 

To top off the enjoyment of the show, Theatre Royal Windsor has just had a full interior refurbishment in partnership with paint and decoration specialists, Farrow & Ball.  However, the dominating delight of this play is in its quickfire action and reaction, so any of the tour venues deserve to have a full house.

How the Other Half Loves runs at Theatre Royal Windsor from 30 Aug - 9 Sept 2017

Booking: 01753 853 888

For full UK tour details see www.kenright.com

 

     

 

 

Comments

0 Comments

     
Please login or sign up to post on this network.
Click here to sign up now.