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By Don Church and Tony Schillaci

How The Other Half Loves, playing until May 1st at the Ivoryton Playhouse, is a laugh-out-loud comedy, with so much thrown at you by six wildly talented actors that while you are catching your breath, your head is spinning!

This play is not simply your run-of-the-mill witty English drawing room comedy.  Far from it!

Playwright Alan Ayckbourn’s furiously fast formula for fun is a madcap romp, pitting three couples against time and space with a series of misunderstandings and hilarious consequences, unsuspecting dupes, guilty lovers and suspicious alibis. 

The play gleefully turns “wit” upside down and backwards, and instead of a drawing room, scenic designer Tony Andrea has ingeniously blended the furnishings of two homes – two living rooms, two dining rooms, even two foyers and front doors –into one cohesive set.  Confusing? Not really.

The Playbill warns that “even though intertwined at times, it’s as if there are two different plays being performed simultaneously – Good Luck!” Yet the writing and the way it is played (by one of the best ensemble casts we’ve ever had the joy of seeing onstage) and how it’s brilliantly directed –especially via the skillful blocking – by Lawrence Thelen, makes this show visually and audibly easy to follow.

The ensemble company features Executive/Artistic Director/Actor Jacqui Hubbard as Fiona Foster, and Company Manager/Actor Beverly Taylor as Theresa, the wife of Bob Phillips.  Bob and Fiona are having an affair, and Theresa suspects nothing.

These talented women not only keep the Ivoryton Playhouse vibrant and lively behind the scenes as theater management professionals, but who ever knew they both had such deft acting chops?

Joining Jacqui and Beverley on the boards is hilarious Nick Stevenson as the mostly hung-over Bob, brilliant comic actor Bill Klux as the flummoxed and fastidious ‘hasn’t got a clue’ Frank, B. Brian Argotsinger’s  nerve-wracked performance as timidly innocent William, and Alanna Wilson’s painfully shy portrayal as Mary who becomes the catalyst for most of the misunderstanding and mirth..  The four latter actors are all members of Actors Equity.

LisaMarie Harry’s costume design defines the characters perfectly – from dowdy Theresa’s red fluffy slippers to elegant Fiona’s ‘Carnaby Street’ fashion look.  Dressing the locks of Theresa, Fiona and Mary, Joel Silvestro’s wig and hair design totally identifies these as middle-class British women.    Doug Harry’s lighting design keeps the set light, bright and easy-on-the-eyes to catch all the action. The hour of the day is defined by a spotlighted cuckoo clock – cleverly opening scenes to remind us of what time and which day it is. And that cuckoo’s incessant “coo” is only possible through the sound design of Tate R. Burmeister, who has also made certain that every spoken word can be heard clearly and distinctly.

The stage management of T. Rick Jones keeps the dark time between scenes to a minimum, and the unseen crew is lightening fast and efficient to make sure that all the wine glasses, plates, drinks, toys, porta-prams, screwdrivers and toothbrushes are where they are supposed to be at all times! Props galore!

This play is for anyone who is in a “couples” relationship – of any stripe.  The universal joys, annoyances, day-to-day frustrations, the little love and affection moments, plus the intrigues, are all illustrated here, mostly with rousingly laughable effects.

How The Other Half Loves runs thru May 1st.  Matinees are Wednesday and Sunday at 2 pm. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 pm, Friday and Saturday at 8 pm. Tickets are $40 for adults, $35 for seniors, $20 for students and $15 for children. Call the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or visit the website at  The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton, Connecticut.

Help the Ivoryton celebrate its 100th Birthday by seeing How The Other Half Loves!  If you like to laugh at sophisticated adult entertainment, you’ll love it.

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