How The Other Half Loves

Performed November 26th to 28th 2015

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Director Carole Smith

How The Other Half Loves - November 2015

 

Tiny cast triumphs in classic comedy

ON a cold, damp winter’s night, there’s nothing quite like a trip to a Riding Mill Drama Club production to lift the spirits.

And with the Alan Ayckbourn comedy How The Other Half Loves on the agenda, I wondered how a tiny cast of six would be able to sustain the plot while pulling off all the laughs, particularly as the entire play – set in the autumn of 1972 – takes place simultaneously in two separate living rooms.

However, a clever use of the set and props, which were organised to portray both the stately lounge of Frank and Fiona Foster (played by Kris Andersen and Eileen Davidson) and the tatty retreat of Bob and Teresa Phillips (played by Shaun Fenwick and Gaia Hudson) made a tricky concept clear from the outset.

The play tracks the relationships of three couples, the Fosters, the Phillips and the Featherstones.

It follows the misunderstandings caused by two of the six characters having an affair, and covering their tracks using an innocent third party.

After a mix-up over seats, I was shown to my chair, and was drawn in to the plot from the outset.

It quickly became apparent that Bob was prepared to do whatever he could to cover up his drunken fling with Fiona – who just so happens to be the wife of his boss.

But his quizzical wife Teresa was clearly not going to accept any old excuse for him stumbling home at 2am.

The tall tale he produces is that he has been comforting work associate William Featherstone (played by Mike Smith), who believes his wife Mary (played by Angela Routledge) is having an affair.

As the plot unfolded, the story became more and more confused, but the professionalism of the cast ensured it remained remarkably easy to follow.

Laugh out loud moments continued right until the final scene when Teresa answers a phone call from Frank and, believing him to be a phantom caller, the confused pair agree to meet.

My favourite pairing of the night was Mike Smith and Angela Routledge who were entertaining as the innocent but implicated Featherstones from start to finish.

As for the staging, director Carole Smith and her team should be applauded for making the simultaneous dinner parties in act two so believable.

With William and Mary Featherstone on swivelling seats, their presence at two dinner parties, thrown by the Fosters and the Phillips, was – very cleverly – made possible.

Hexham Courant Link

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Set Design By Matt Osmond

2015 How the Other Half loves stage plan
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