Review: How The Other Half Loves, by Alan Ayckbourn, Suffolk Summer Theatre, St Edmunds Hall, Southwold July 8-18, then Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh, July 23-August 1
- Credit: Archant
The great thing about Alan Ayckbourn is that he knows people. How The Other Half Loves is one of Ayckbourn’s early classics, first performed in 1970.
Today it’s something of an enigma. At first glance it would appear to be very much of its time and as such this play should no longer work but it does.
It works because Ayckbourn is keen observer of society’s foibles and although the characters attitudes maybe rooted in the 1970s, the subject of sexual relations is timeless.
Suffolk Summer Theatres have wisely opted not to update the setting and played it as a period piece and this classic farce of marital manners opens their 35th season on the Suffolk coast.
Directed by David Harris, the cast display a satisfyingly light touch. Nothing is laboured. There are no knowing winks to the audience about 1970s attitudes to gender and marriage. Even the fashions and the furniture are not overdone.
You may also want to watch:
Veteran designer Maurice Rubens, celebrating 25 years with the company, keeps everything clever and correct with his overlaid, two-rooms-in-one approach. The couples’ homes occupy the same space on stage. They have split tables and sofas. The decoration is suitably restrained. The tone from Harris and Rubens is that this is a tale about real people, living real lives.
It would be so easy to turn the ‘70s setting into a parody which the production team neatly sidesteps. Harris, recognising the wit and observation contained in Ayckbourn’s words, has no desire to turn this into an ironic homage to 1970s bad taste by making it a modern-day copy of The Confessions films.
- 1 Man left with serious burns after fire at Hadleigh petrol station
- 2 Retailer to pay £60K after multiple food hygiene breaches in Sudbury store
- 3 Photos of suspected stolen dogs released in bid to find owners
- 4 New survey reveals Suffolk's property hotspots
- 5 Community thanked for helping seriously burned man at Hadleigh petrol station
- 6 Commuter faces full trains on line from East Anglia to London
- 7 Matchday Recap: Town beaten yet again as Blues flop at Northampton
- 8 George Burley: Ipswich fans' dreams would have been shattered by a European Super League
- 9 Rose-tinted reaction to Duke's death was so out of proportion
- 10 'We can look forward to the transfer window' - Cook on summer plans
The casting is spot on. Michael Shaw generated huge laughs as the absent-minded Frank Foster while Kate Middleton made her stay-at-home mum Teresa Phillips believably real as she slowly became aware of her husband’s philandering.
Eliza McClelland displayed a wonderfully deft touch as Frank’s wife Fiona who neatly avoids the awkward questions when it becomes clear she is ‘the other woman’ in Teresa and Bob Phillips marriage.
How The Other Half Loves is a classic relationship comedy and by playing it straight has given us a crowd-pleasing start to a new summer season.