by Richard Harris and Leslie Darbon.

Queen’s Theatre Billet Lane RM11 1QT To 29 March 2014.
Tue-Sat 8pm Mat 22, 27 March 2.30pm.
Audio-described 22 March 2.30pm
BSL Signed 26 March.
Runs 2hr 10min One interval.

TICKETS: 01708 443333.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 10 March.

Skilful enough revival of less than classic farce.
As the sexual revolution of 1960s England came to its close, something, it seems, was stirring in the loins of Establishment theatre. With an independent and unerring accuracy for suggesting the newish national mood really was here to stay, immensely popular comedies opened in the early 1970s with the titles No Sex Please. We’re British and Two and Two Makes Sex. No sex in one, while it doesn’t add up in the other.

The co-authors of the play now amiably revived in Hornchurch are accomplished in farce and crime, genres particularly requiring plotting skills. Yet a glance at Claire Lyth’s set, dividing the stage into halves showing the untidy modernity of young Jane’s home (and home-from-home for philandering George) and the dignified affluence of George’s married home with Clare, provokes comparison with the play-of-that-moment by Alan Ayckbourn.

How the Other Half Loves also has an older, financially successful married man’s affair with a younger, less organised woman. But Ayckbourn slices the stage into segments alternating the homes, the action rapidly switching, or taking place within both. And his characters catch the mood of the national moment, with different forms of confusion affecting the two generations.

Nor does anything here equal the ingenuity of Ayckbourn’s climactic double-dinner party, where the third pair of his characters are shown simultaneously at two contrasting dinners in different houses.

Here it’s a simpler matter of an older (48-year old) man trying to handle guilt (something reassuring to traditional morality) while with the young woman who, naturally, is the one who has the chance to run around in underwear, while his wife responds to her suspicions by taking up with a younger psychiatrist who just happens to be the other woman’s partner.

It’s that “just happens” which contrasts Ayckbourn, who creates more solid reasons for characters to come together, while the authors here only assemble everybody in the final scene, finally getting down to some real action in by far the most successful scene.

Director Matt Devitt and his cast do everything that might reasonably be expected with this material. Which is something. But not that much.

Jane: Ellie Rose Boswell.
Ruth: Georgina Field.
Nick: Callum Hughes.
Jack: Simon Jessop.
George: Sean Needham.
Clare: Claire Storey.

Director: Matt Devitt.
Designer: Claire Lyth.
Lighting: Daniel Crews.

2014-03-13 11:46:12

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