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 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Boundary Players - How the Other Half Loves

4th to 8th February 2003.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Everyday tale of decent folk

Alan Ayckbourn's 'How The Other Half Loves', performed by The Boundary Players, at the William Penney Theatre, Tadley, from Tuesday, February 4 to Saturday, February 8

Bob and Fiona are having an affair. The fact that he is married to Teresa and she is married to Frank is only further complicated by the script demanding that all this marital mayhem takes place simultaneously in two houses on one set and that the guilty parties implicate the innocent Featherstones as they wriggle and scriggle not to be caught out. Plenty of scope for riotous laughter there then. Plenty of scope too, for dicing with death in the amateur arena.

However, if director Pat Archer ever once felt she was on a high wire without a net it never showed. No doubt there were sleepless nights when she may have wished she had taken up another less arduous hobby such as wrestling with bears, but we, the audience, were jolly glad she didn't.

The words tremendous, seamless and first class can only go half-way to describing this truly golden 50th anniversary production. (Theirs, not hers!)

Say the word 'casting' and you have to add 'superb'. Frank (Colin Benham) bumbled and blustered his way through the entire proceedings, batting one-liners and asides to his long-suffering Fiona (Natalie Dommett) who batted them back with deadly understatement where lesser actors would have resorted to shrill hysteria.

Bob (Clive Lewington) and Teresa (Lee Hewitt) bickered away in a house full of dirty nappies with such conviction that you could understand how it all went wrong in the first place. These were not pyrotechnic marital breakdowns but the well measured portrayals of the steady accumulation of neglect that often makes that grass on the other side of the fence look so much greener.

Enter William and Mary Featherstone, (masterful performances from John Maycock and Paula Lake), the unwitting innocents who nearly destroyed their own marriage as they tried to do the decent thing and sort out everybody else's.

And there you have it. An everyday tale of six decent folk who just happen to be in two houses at once on a single set. Just like real life! Only thanks to this director and her cast it was better. Much, much better.