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How The Other Half Loves

by Alan Ayckbourn
Thursday 13th - Saturday 15th May 2010

How The Other Half Loves poster

Frank Foster : Jeremy Austin
Fiona Foster : Caroline Butcher
Teresa Philips : Penny Pearson
Bob Phillips: Steve Symonds
William Featerstone : Peter Brown
Mary Featherstone : Keeley Campbell

Director : Graham Hawkins

This is one of Sir Alan Ayckbourn's more complicated plays to produce as in one scene two very different dinner parties are being staged on two consecutive evenings, with one couple taking part in both!

You have to see it to understand how it could work, but it did, so well done Graham Hawkins in his directorial debut.

It tells the story of posh Fiona who is having an affair with Bob - her 'bit of rough'.

They try to cover up their indiscretion by drawing in to their subterfuge a young couple, the Featherstones, who are innocent parties.

If you're going looking for someone to play the part of a vague, slightly confused and yet educated character you have to look no further than Jeremy Austin, one of the stalwarts of the society, who always manages to turn confusion into an art form.

He was perfect as Frank Foster who feigns belief in his wife's improbable excuses to mask her infidelity.

Penny Parson shone as the other wronged spouse, giving a very convincing and skilful performance, with just the right mix of humour and frustration.

I felt that Caroline Butcher could have been a little more sophisticated and flirty as the errant wife, and Bob Phillips a bit more 'jack the lad' as her lover.

Keely Campbell and Peter Brown as Mary and William Featherstone provided good support and managed particularly well in the joint dinner party scene.

MB - Stour and Avon Community Magazine

Any director needs to ensure that his or her cast move around the stage without bumping into either each other or the furniture, so it was a brave decision on the part of Graham Hawkins to choose as his directorial debut a play where the set is actually two different rooms in two different houses, with the actors frequently moving from one area to another.

It could have all gone horribly wrong but in fact it worked like a dream, and never more so than during a scene with one couple at dinner parties on successive nights but shown as taking place simultaneously.

The six-strong cast in this Ayckbourn comedy worked well together. In particular, Jeremy Austin was delightfully woolly as Frank Foster, whose vagueness and tendency to jump to conclusions is the cause of numerous misunderstandings that come about after his wife Fiona (Caroline Butcher) lies about her affair with Frankís colleague Bob (Steve Symonds).

There was a superb, angst-ridden performance too from Penny Pearson as Bobís wife Teresa, while Peter Brown and Keely Campbell gave lovely characterisations as Mary and William Featherstone, the couple unwittingly drawn into the fray.

Congratulations too to Jackson and Mark Ellen for an excellent set.

Linda Kirkman