How The Other Half Loves

Date 9th October 2021
Society Kingsley Players
Venue Kingsley Community Centre
Type of Production Farce
Director Malcolm Barker

Report

Author: Joe Clarke

Kingsley Players were back on stage this week with their fantastic version of Alan Ayckbourn’s, How The Other Half Loves.  This play has been two years, and many actor changes, in the making and it’s great to see that they have finally brought this piece of theatre to the stage.  One of my favourite plays, this version had a lot to live up to, and boy it did!  From the clever set design to the pace and physical comedy, this production was a treat for the senses.  Director Malcolm Barker and his team have worked wonders into producing a set design that MUST be correct in order for the cross-cutting action to work.  Of course there are many helpful tips in the script, but each society must create their own set design to highlight the action.  I really enjoyed Kingsley’s set design which highlighted each of the households of the Fosters and the Phillips family, although it would’ve been great if the doors of the Foster’s family closed properly, which was a tiny distraction.  The choice to use so many props only enhanced the overall feel, and I loved the way in which the set was close to the 1970’s as it could be.  The storytelling was at the forefront, as was the pace.  I could tell that a lot of time was spent working on the physical aspects of this play, which again, enhanced the overall concept of this farcical play.  I also loved the added directorial touches at the conclusion of the play which made the audience roar with laughter!  Well done to Malcolm Barker for great vision and understanding of this brilliant piece.  I loved the added touch of the video screen from the Fosters’ window into their garden which was a great highlight and one that I haven’t seen before!

A special mention to Vic and Jane Woodhams and Ann Crawford for their work on the set and properties – brilliant work.

I find that it’s very hard to light this play, as all of the action takes place indoors in the same two houses.  The lighting in this production was a general wash without any added special effects – but it didn’t need it.  I have to admit that I barely noticed the lighting – which is another sign that it was effective throughout.

Frank Foster was played by Neil Silcock.  Neil mentions in the programme that he felt a little too young to play this role, and I have to admit, when I first saw the opening scene, I thought the same.  However, Neil was brilliant in this role!  He played the bumbling Frank well and I loved the little nuances that he brought to the role which made the audience fall in love with Frank and were always on his side!  Neil was very entertaining throughout and his storytelling and pace were excellent!  A great play in great hands with Neil in this role!

Mr Foster’s cheating wife, Fiona was played by Lesley Silcock (Neil’s real-life wife).  I would have loved to known what their neighbours would’ve thought when they heard Neil and Lesley rehearsing at home throughout lockdown!  Lesley brought a lovely middle-class quality to the role of Fiona, and I really enjoyed her subtle looks to both Frank and Bob.  Lesley’s diction and articulation were excellent too which helped with the overall storytelling. 

Fiona’s bit on the side, Bob Phillips was brilliantly played by Simon Hetherington.  Simon’s version of this character was unlike any that I’ve seen before, and I have to say I really enjoyed the characterisations that he brought to this part.  He reminded me of an Arthur Daley quality which worked (I’m not sure the younger folk will get this reference)!  Simon looked very relaxed in this role, and I felt very comfortable watching him, knowing that the play was in great hands.  A great showcase for Simon’s obvious talents!

Bob’s wife, the downtrodden and depressed Teresa, was played by Jo Oultram.  Jo did well and was well cast.  I loved the way that Jo brought the feisty side of Teresa out and her rapport with the other actors was great!  I felt that at times, Jo was being a little stagey and playing the audience a little, but I’m being very picky here.  Jo’s physical comedy and comic timing was great, as was her storytelling - well done!

Dylan White played the role of the hopeless William Featherstone.  I have to admit that at times, Dylan slowed the pace a little too much and was a little too laid back for me, however I could see the lovely characterisations that he was doing, and the audience felt really sorry for William.  Dylan had a lovely rapport with Ali, his stage wife.

Ali Wheeler played the role of the helpless Mary Featherstone brilliantly!  I loved the nervousness that Ali brought to Mary, with her facial tics and wringing on hands etc.  Ali’s facial expressions and looks alone were excellent and really added layers to this iconic character.  Ali then treated us to brilliant physical comedy throughout too – an excellent performance – brilliantly cast!

Overall, this play was a massive success!  I loved everything about it!  This play deserved to play to a sell-out audiences every night.  On the night I came there were still too many empty seats which is a shame for this brilliant cast and crew.

I thank Kingsley Players for their kind invitation and wish them all the very best for their next production of Peter Pan in January 2022!