BWW Review: HOW THE OTHER HALF LOVES at Florida Rep is Clever and Comical!
Florida Rep's production of HOW THE OTHER HALF LOVES by Alan Ayckbourn is a unique, intermingled comedy that depicts two people who are involved in a sneaky affair and the tangled web of lies they create to try and cover it up.
HOW THE OTHER HALF LOVES features three Florida Rep ensemble members--Carrie Lund, Jason Parrish, and Brendan Powers--along with Kate Hampton, Faith Sandberg, and Broadway alum Paxton Whitehead. The three Florida Rep ensemble members in this production are local favorites for a reason; all of them are incredible actors, and they were each the most perfect fit for their characters.
I thoroughly enjoyed Kate Hampton's portrayal of Teresa Phillips and Faith Sandberg's portrayal of Mary Featherstone. Hampton did incredibly well at bringing Teresa's boldness, anger, humor, and wit to life. I appreciated her character very much. Sandberg was brilliant in showcasing Mary Featherstone's awkward personality; she was so fantastically funny, especially when her character was practically dragged into the middle of the affair between Carrie Lund's Fiona Foster and Brendan Powers's Bob Phillips.
Though all the actors in this show were phenomenal, I especially enjoyed Paxton Whitehead's performance. His character, Frank Foster, was hilarious. He had some of the best lines in the show, and Whitehead's delivery and timing were perfect. He was the perfect person to act opposite of Carrie Lund. Frank's speculation on the affair he thought was happening was great simply because the audience knew otherwise, and Whitehead played this idea up well.
Something that I really loved about this production was how the stories of both couples involved in the affair played out on the stage at the same time; the set was designed in such a creative way that I completely understood that we were seeing two parts of a whole right away. Different wallpaper patterns switched back and forth on different parts of the set to represent the two different homes of the couples, the chairs and couches were different colors, the lighting changed as the story switched between the two couples... the two dining room tables even overlapped each other. Each couple also had a telephone, and they held many conversations within the show using the phone; the calls often held confusion and moments of misunderstanding for many of the characters, which brought the innocent Featherstones even deeper into the tangle of lies created by Fiona and Bob, and this heightened the plot very well. I enjoyed the phone aspect very much, as it further emphasized how the stories connected.
One of my favorite parts of HOW THE OTHER HALF LOVES was a dinner scene--or, I should say, two dinner scenes. William and Mary Featherstone attended dinner on two different nights at the homes of the Fosters and Phillips', and these scenes were shown on stage at the exact same time. Jason Parrish and Faith Sandberg's characters rotated back and forth between the two dinner tables on stage, essentially switching evenings and dinner scenes, and this had the entire audience laughing. The contrast between the evenings and the couples was very prominent in this scene, which made it even better. I loved it.
HOW THE OTHER HALF LOVES was absolutely one of the best shows I've seen at Florida Rep. From the brilliant acting, to the hilarious storyline, to the uniqueness of how the Fosters and Phillips' lives were portrayed on the stage... this is not a show to be missed. I highly recommend seeing HOW THE OTHER HALF LOVES if you're looking for an afternoon or evening full of smart humor and fantastic, lighthearted entertainment. The fact that this production was extended an extra three days is a testament to how great it truly is. See it while you can!
HOW THE OTHER HALF LOVES is playing in the Historic Arcade Theatre at Florida Rep now through February 3. Performances are Tuesday-Saturday at 7PM, with 2PM matinees on Wednesday, Sunday, and selected Saturdays. To buy tickets, you can visit www.floridarep.org, call Florida Rep at 239-332-4488, or stop by the box office at 2268 Bay Street, Fort Myers, FL, 33901.