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Kintbury Players - How the other Half Loves

27th to 29th November 2003.

This review was from the Newbury Weekly News.

Feat of dexterity

Kintbury Players: How the other Half Loves, at the Coronation Hall, Kintbury, from Thursday, November 27 to Saturday, November 29

The Kintbury Players and the Coronation Hall go together like peaches and cream, which was a good thing as this Ayckbourn play was complex and requires considerable dexterity.

The play was set in a flat and house belonging to the Phillips and Foster families and acted out simultaneously in both homes. It was the story of an affair between Fiona Foster (Judith Nye) and Bob Phillips (Martin Barrett), who is the assistant to Fiona's husband Frank and opened with the hapless Frank (Chris Trigwell) bounding in to his lounge for breakfast, ready for his keep fit regime.

Although the play was set 30 years ago, they must have had digital radio because it came on and went off again without Frank touching it. Chris, ever the professional was not fazed in the least but his wonderfully expressive face said it all, with not a word spoken.

He was joined by his wife, who was late home having been out with Bob and had forgotten their wedding anniversary. Chris and Judith pulled off some brilliant dialogue and their one-liners were superb.

At the same time we saw Bob's wife Teresa (Debbie Spencer) slopping about, the antithesis to Fiona, and thoroughly annoyed that Bob had arrived home in the early hours, worse for wear.

The play was held together by the clever use of a telephone connecting the two homes. After almost being caught out, Bob and Fiona told their spouses that they had, independently, been counselling Mary and William Featherstone.

William worked in the same company as Bob and Frank and had been promoted into Frank's department.

In order to compound this lie, Teresa and Fiona invited the couple to their homes for a meal and this was where the dexterity of the players, the set designers and the stage management came to the fore.

The dining tables from both homes were set for two separate meals, divided by the clever use of different coloured table covers. William (John Swallow), keen to impress his new boss, had to convince Mary (Rosemary Trigwell) that this was how they will live now that he had been promoted.

The six players sat around the table with William and Mary in the centre. To depict the differing meals they faced their hosts by turning to the centre or right, depending on the dialogue.

With split-second timing, their expressions, mannerisms and dialogue changed depending on which host was talking at the time.

It must have taken months of rehearsals to get them to such perfection.

I doubt that this could have been carried off any better in the West End, and I am sure that the two people who searched the web and came from Highworth in Swindon on the off-chance of seats must have realised what a stroke of luck they had.