REVIEW: How the Other Half Loves at Salisbury Playhouse

**** [4 stars]

You might think that watching a comedy about infidelity isn’t the most enjoyable or romantic way to spend a Valentine’s Day, but the packed auditorium at Salisbury Playhouse last night would beg to differ!

‘How the Other Half Loves’, Ayckbourn’s traditional farce, went down a storm with Salisbury audiences who loved the riot of retro physical comedy. A classic farcical tale of misunderstanding, confusion and chaos, this latest offering from Wiltshire Creative will have you laughing all night long.

The shining star of this production has to be Michael Taylor’s inspired set which morphs two stylistically antithetical living rooms together. The use of colour, pattern and texture differentiates the two homes and shows which parts of the shared furniture belong to each house. The juxtaposition of the upper class Foster household with the messy middle-class family home of the Phillips, is a perfect visual and symbolic basis upon which the script builds comic misconception and plays with vintage comedy of sex and class.

How the Other Half Loves - Photo Credit The Other Richards

The split set is most successful in the culmination of Act 1 in which the script adeptly blends two different dinner parties occurring simultaneously. The bewildered Featherstones enter the picture as the unknowing alibis for both Fiona Foster and Bob Phillips in covering up their recent affair. As we weave comically through the two dinner parties, the Featherstones swivel between the two tables in a hilarious and chaotic scene full of physical comedy.

This is another facet through which Gareth Machin’s (Artistic Director at Wiltshire Creative) production excels: the characterisation and physical comedy is excellent and an enormous source of hilarity. Particularly worth noting here are Sam Alexander and Philip Bretherton, whose expert physicality vividly brings to life the over-the-top farce archetypes of William Featherstone and Frank Foster respectively.

Though some of the jokes and themes are a touch dated (the script having been written in 1969), this piece still had an auditorium of 500 howling with laughter as the fast-paced plot took us on a hilarious rollercoaster of expertly engineered chaos.

HOW THE OTHER HALF LOVES is on at Salisbury Playhouse until 4 March 2023, with tickets from only £12.

Click here to book your ticket today and enjoy a hilarious night out at the theatre! 


How the Other Half Loves - Photo Credit The Other Richards

NB: How The Other Half Loves has an age guidance of 12+, contains mimed violence and references to adultery, controlling behaviour and child neglect.

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