Oct/Nov 2011

How The Other Half Loves
by Alan Ayckbourn

Directed by
John Richardson

Greville rose to the
challenge admirably
Michael Gray

Tremendous tribute
to its director
Braintree & Witham Times

More Reviews

How The Other Half Loves portrays the hilarities of marital infidelity with an extra dimension – a juggling of time and space.

It follows the lives of three suburban married couples, linked by the work of the husbands.  Fiona and Frank are the senior of the three couples, the other two men being business subordinates.  The action takes place at two dinner parties given on consecutive nights.  The single set is almost a character in itself, representing two living/dining-rooms at once.  The furniture, and often the people of the two places are intermingled, so that the audience witnesses both dinner parties simultaneously.

Over breakfast, Frank Foster asks his wife Fiona why she was out into the early hours the night before.  She is non-committal.

Bob Phillips arrives down for breakfast in a bad temper after being out very late.

After a grilling by his wife Teresa, Bob tells her that he was out drinking with a colleague from work William Featherstone who suspects his wife is having an affair.

Fiona finally admits to Frank the she was out with Mary Featherstone whom she had met at his Company party.  Frank then surprises her with the news that he has invited the Featherstones over for dinner that evening.

Fiona prepares for the dinner party that evening (Thursday) while Theresa invites the Featherstones for dinner on Friday.

In scenes that run concurrently, William and Mary arrive for the two dinner parties.

Fiona welcomes William and Mary who have arrived during a downpour.  Frank is outside clearing the drains.

On Friday William and Mary arrive to find the Phillips' house empty.  Teresa has locked herself out and William lets her in.  Bob has gone to the pub in a temper.

William introduces Mary to Frank, his boss.
Mary is very shy and William obsequious.

The Featherstones enjoy a refined evening with the Fosters.

The Phillips' dinner is a disaster with the soup tasting of anti-perspirant and the main course burnt.
All that is left is a bottle of Algerian red wine.
Teresa starts singing.

Bob arrives back from the pub drunk and starts a fight with Teresa.  The Featherstones shrink with embarrassment.

After a chase around the room, the fight ends with the remains of the soup poured over William.

The next morning, Mary goes round to the Phillips' to help them and finds that Mary has left Bob.  A bad tempered Bob makes Mary do the cleaning.

Teresa calls on Frank on the way to her mother's and they recount the events of the past few days.  Frank comes to the conclusion that Bob is having an affair with Mary and resolves to sort things out.

Teresa realises that it is Fiona that has had an affair with Bob and returns home to patch things up.  She makes it clear to Fiona that she knows.

Frank asks William over on the pretext of fixing the plumbing to tell him about Mary's affair.

William takes the news very badly and goes to the Phillips' house where he finds Bob and Mary.  Another fight ensues where he gives Bob a black eye.  Teresa enters with a tea tray and knocks William to the ground with it.

Frank resolves to put things right yet again and invites everyone to his house.  Before William arrives, he tells everyone that all this has happened because of an affair between Bob and Mary.  A horrified Mary denies this, backed up by Teresa who knows the truth.

Frank explains to William that he was misinformed and that it has all been a big mistake.  William apologises to Bob and Teresa and prepares to leave with Mary.

Mary refuses to leave until William has apologised for not trusting her.  He very grudgingly does this and Mary explains this by the fact that he has never been wrong before.

Now on their own, it dawns on Frank that it was Fiona that had had the affair.  She tells him that it is over, really wasn't anything with no-one of the least importance and asks his forgiveness.  She tells him she will make a special dinner to make up.



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