Grand Opera House York – until Saturday 14th October. Reviewed by Michelle Richardson
Originally shown in 1969, How the Other Half Loves is an Alan Ayckbourn play, directed here by Alan Strachan. It centres around three couples, an affair, two dinner parties and an intricate web of lies.
Set in the 60’s we have the older, middle-class couple of Frank and Fiona, the brash younger Teresa and Bob and finally the meek and mild, and somewhat dull Mary and William. Fiona and Bob have had a fling, poor Mary and William have been drawn into proceedings in order to hide their infidelity and Frank bumbles along getting the wrong end of the stick.
The very strong cast, Robert Daws, Caroline Langrishe, Charlie Brooks, Leon Ockenden, Sara Crowe and Matthew Cottle played their parts wonderfully, especially Daws, Langrishe and Crowe. I did feel at times that Brooks and Ockenden were a bit over the top, and how anyone could fall for the male chauvinist charms of Bob, is beyond me, though I do suppose he is a bit of eye candy!
Daws play his character Frank with such flare, and you can’t help but love this bumbling old gent who constantly misinterprets everything going on around him and so brings this comedy to life.
Some parts of the play left me with conflicting emotions because of the attitude towards women, historically interesting at times, but also cringingly uncomfortable. I suppose that is only to be expected and it is indicative of the time that the play was originally written.
All of the play is played out with two scenes running simultaneously, though we are treated to several scene changes. I must admit that I was a bit sceptical at first about this, but it worked superbly well. The cast looked like they were having a hoot playing some of the scenes, most notably at the dinner parties. How they all managed to keep a straight face I do not know and their timing was brilliant, especially Crowe and Cottle.
There is one small criticism, the scene change during Act I could have been done a lot quicker and done more seamlessly. The curtain went down and several audience members were a bit unsure what was happening and thought it was the interval, and even got up to get refreshments, only to hastily realise their mistakes.
This is a great adaptation of a classic, a first rate comedy, with laugh out moments abound. Well worth seeing.