Krista Schafer and Charles Davis in Broadway Onstage Live Theatre's "How The Other Half Loves." Photo: Broadway Onstage

Lies Beget Laughs In Broadway Onstage Farce

By Donald V. Calamia

One of my mother's favorite quotes was "Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive." And had the three couples in Alan Ayckbourn's "How The Other Half Loves" heeded those words, they'd have avoided a rather unpleasant string of encounters that threatened to split apart their marriages. But then again, where would the fun in that be - especially for theatergoers who like farcical comedies?

Ayckbourn's ninth comedy, first produced in 1969 and now playing at Broadway Onstage Live Theatre in Eastpointe, examines what happens when the cover-up of a secret affair between the wife of a businessman and one of his employees spins out of control. Unable to adequately explain their whereabouts to their respective spouses, Bob Phillips (Charles Davis) tells Teresa (Sharron Nelson) that he was out till 2 a.m. having drinks with coworker William Detweiler (John Arden McClure), while Fiona Foster (Krista Schafer) explains to Frank (Christopher Oakley) that she was out with William's wife, Mary (Stella Roth). Why, the gullible spouses are told? Each of the Detweilers assumes the other is having an affair - and both needed a friend to talk to.

The only affair is between Bob and Fiona, of course. However, since Teresa is looking for a cause to champion and Frank believes it's his duty to keep his employees morally on track, each invites the Detweilers to dinner - unbeknownst to one another and on consecutive nights. And that's when the REAL fireworks begin!

Ayckbourn connects the story by having it portrayed simultaneously in the living rooms of the upper class Fosters and the not-so well-to-do Phillips - both of which are seen side by side, but are supposed to be several blocks apart. Although there is little overlapping dialogue, furniture is often shared by both families and characters occasionally cross from "their" side of the set to the other. It's a clever concept designed to maximize the script's storytelling potential, which comes to fruition when both dinner parties are shown at the same time - which requires some very tight timing on the part of all six actors. (The first time Teresa walks across the stage - passing in front of the Fosters in the process - was a bit jarring, however, but you quickly get used to it.)

All of the actors are Broadway Onstage regulars. Of particular note are personal Onstage favorites Nelson, who excels at playing downtrodden housewives, and Schafer, who shines as haughty rich folk; both are always a joy to watch.

Oakley, however, is too overblown here and rarely varies his delivery.

Also problematic is Donna Disante's direction. Although her production has some very funny moments - such as the aforementioned dinner party scene - her glacial pacing fails to deliver much of the humor Ayckbourn built into his script. (Farces require snappy banter and quick - sometimes overlapping - entrances and exits, for example.)

Attention to detail is also lacking. Set in 1978, I suspect the gift bag Frank handed Fiona hadn't been invented yet. And I sincerely doubt Bob and Teresa would have the Detroit Legal News delivered to their door every morning. Plus, home phone numbers were not found in the Yellow Pages.

Yet despite these flaws, "How the Other Half Loves" delivers an amusing night of laughs that serves to reinforce an important lesson taught us by our mothers. (How'd the always know when we were lying?)

REVIEW:

'How the Other Half Loves'

Broadway Onstage, 21517 Kelly Road, Eastpointe. 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday through March 23. 2 hours, 10 minutes, with intermission. $18. 586-771-6333. http://www.BroadwayOnStage.com

MI Marriage Trial

Michigan Same Sex Couples Demand Respect And Equal Treatment

Michigan Leaders React To Feds Recognition Of Marriages

MI Marriage: Schuette Asks For Full Appeals Court Review

The Stay Delayed Allows 315 Couples To Wed In State

Gay Marriage Defines Schuette's Reelection Campaign

Snyder Says Schuette Going Against Trend

Sixth Circuit Continues Stay

Michigan Marriage Ban Struck Down

Michigan Makes History With First Marriages

Elected Officials, Advocates Petition Schuette To Drop Marriage Aappeal

Pictures from Ingham County - Getting Married

Pictures from Oakland County Clerk's Office - Part 1

Pictures from the Oakland County Clerk's office - Part 2

Pictures from the Oakland County Clerk's Office - Part 3

Pictures from Washtenaw County

White Nationalist Group Files Brief Supporting AG's Appeal In Marriage Ruling

Discredited Witness Part Of Right-Wing Cabal

Schauer Celebrates Overturn Of Michigan Marriage Ban

Equality Michigan Circulating Petition to Drop Appeal

Why Are Governor Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette Wasting Michigan Taxpayer Dollars On A Costly Appeal?

Michigan Marriage Ban Co-Author Goes 'Moral'

BTL's Wedding Expo: Like Pride in April

Snyder Says Marriages Invalid

Elected Officials, Advocates Petition Schuette To Drop Marriage Appeal

Request To Remove Stay Based On Process And Substance

Schuette Lies To Satisfy Political Base

DOCUMENTS: The decision, the stay, and more

BREAKING: Holder Asked To Recognize Michigan Marriages

Michigan Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

BREAKING: Sixth Circuit Court Of Appeals Issues Temporary Stay On Michigan Case

BREAKING: Same-Sex Couples Across Michigan Get Hitched

BREAKING: Judge Friedman Declares Michigan's Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

Judge Could Rule Late Today In Mich. Marriage Ban

Michigan Marriage Trial: And Now We Wait

Editor's Viewpoint: Our Long Journey To Justice

Federal Marriage Case Decisions Outside Michigan In Circuit Court of Appeals

Peers Distance Themselves As Regnerus Takes The Stand

Marriage Supporters, Protestors Brave Cold At Courthouse

Highlights From Michigan Same-Sex Marriage Hearing

Brown Says Schuette Instructed Clerks To Defy Court

Michigan Marriage Equality Trial Begins Second Week

Marriage Equality Trial Opens : Science v. Fear

Michigan Marriage Center Prepares State For The Possibility!

Michigan Marriage Case Begins

A Trial Full of Experts: Incredible and Not So Credible, In Hazel Park Case

like us on facebook follow us on twitter follow us on google+