Alan Ayckbourn is a renowned British playwright and director well known for his flair for the bedroom farce. One of the more successful of his works is How the Other Half Loves which premiered in 1969. The first of Ayckbourn’s Broadway debuts How the Other Half Loves was a roaring success in the early 1970s with Ayckbourn’s innovative twist on the traditional sex farce, where two couples are intertwined in a love affair are simultaneously intertwined in homes and many scenes that overlap one another on the stage. However, more than forty years after its ground-breaking premier the intriguing premise has become overwhelmed by the somewhat predictable plot, but still and true to form the British Players and Director Pauline Griller-Mitchell put on an entertaining evening of theatre with exceptional designs and and a talented cast.
Upon first arrival into the venue we are treated with the beautiful set designed meticulously by J. Andrew Simmons. The apartments of the two couples are carefully and seamlessly entangles, with differing styles of wall coverings, size of windows and doorways. At first glance it seems as if it is one home with a somewhat bizarre design scheme, but as we first meet the players it becomes clear and very cool to see two different apartments materialize. This is in major part due to the keen staging of Director Griller-Mitchell. Griller-Mitchell uses her actors to not only define the two distinct but entangled homes, but also to give the audience some wonderful imagery as the actors in separate scenes come oh so close to each other, as they enter and exit their perspective homes.
One of the other standout designers in this able team is Costume Designer Linda Swann. One of my favorites of the evening was the 1970’s garb of the unsuspecting William Detweiller, played by John O’Leary. His brown suit with visible white stitching and plaid pants garnered one of the best laugh-outloud moments of the evening.
O’Leary is endearing as the unsuspecting foil William Detweiller. He and Laurie Simonds, who plays his wife, the demure and anxious Mary Detweiller, make for some of the most pure comedic moments of the night. Simonds was especially delightful with her over-the-top facial expressions in the face of the absurdity that surrounded her. One of the most fun scenes is when the pair are set in a dinner party with both of the other couples, on what is set to be two separate evenings.. That is all I can give away, but it is hilarious to say the least.
The unsuspecting Detweillers are first brought into the fray of the evening by co-worker Bob Phillips (John Allnutt) and his wife Teresa Phillips (Karen Romero). This pair brings some of the more dramatic moments of the evening as the two fight over the possible betrayals of the other. The pair reveals some of the darkest realities that couples may go through ,thus resulting in the infidelity that is at the core of the story.
Romero plays a put-upon Teresa Phillips with a grit and enviable reality in this farce. She is biting and sarcastic, which plays well against her belligerent husband, and you will find yourself routing for her as she stands up to his mistreatment. Allnut plays the not very redeemable drunk husband, but still wins the crowd over with his physicality and shenanigans.
Finally, we have the distinguished pair of Fiona Foster (Susan Paisner) and Frank Foster (Peter Harrold). The pair do well as the most sophisticated of the couples. Paisner is perfectly refined as the ne’er-do-well and socialite Fiona. She easily manipulates her husband, the forgetful and charmingly unaware Frank. Harrold is particularly priceless in this role as he blissfully goes about his day without a clue as to the trouble his wife has gotten him in.
How the Other Half Loves has an excellent cast, lots of laughs, and impeccable direction. I strongly recommend that you take your other half and pay a visit to the British Players to see this popular comedy by a renowned playwright. How the Other Half Loves will surely leave you entertained.
How the Other Loves plays through March 28, 2015 at The British Players performing at Kensington Town Hall – 3710 Mitchell Street, in Kensington, MD. For tickets call (240) 447-9863, or purchase them online.
Meet the Cast of ‘How the Other Half Loves’ at The British Players: Part 1: Susan R. Paisner.
Meet the Cast of ‘How the Other Half Loves’ at The British Players: Part 2: Karen Romero.
Meet the Cast of ‘How the Other Half Loves’ at The British Players: Part 3: Peter Harrold.