How the Other Half Loves – Cheltenham Everyman REVIEW

 

Alan Ayckbourn’s How The Other Half Loves is a late 60s classic six man play. Ayckbourn’s goals to highlight different classes and explore the breaking down of a marriage are shaped into this piece. Teamed with this classic playwright is legendary producer Bill Kenwright and successful director Alan Strachan, the three of whom between them have more than enough theatre expertise to shake a stick at.

The play is pegged as a comedy, although I would disagree and say it is more of a light hearted play that is funny, the rest of the audience didn’t agree with me and were howling with laughter at all the appropriate points. I can appreciate the classic British old fashioned comedy but it was laid on a little thick.

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By far the star of the show was the staging. Two 60s themes houses from either end of the class system merged together to have multiple sets and situations on stage at the same time, this aided to keep you engaged and the pace up to speed. From yellow garish curtains to oak wood tables, the themes tied the two worlds together as well as tearing them apart when the characters cross over and have a secret affair. Sofas cut in half and stuck back together, interlocking dinner tables and a baby’s play crib next to a luxurious armchair helped to emphasise the distance between these two worlds.

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The subject matter in itself is not one rarely seen. Two couples each manifesting their own problems seem worlds apart but are brought together in unity over one specific issue, adultery. I would have liked to have seen more development of the storyline for the benefit of the characters.

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The characters in question are extremely stereotypical, which gave the audience occasional titters from predictable lines and mannerisms but could have given the play much more with a little more depth. The cast were extremely capable of much more complex and dynamic roles and I felt a little disappointed they weren’t used to their full ability. For me, Robert Daws as the oblivious and bumbling Frank Foster excelled, but there was not one actor who let the side down, each holding their own in their role. Their comedic timing is fantastic and pumps life into a slow moving first half as the two way dinner party begins, which ends up resembling a hilarious episode of ‘Come Dine With Me’.

An amusing show featuring a strong cast in which the set took centre stage, if you pardon the pun…

 

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