A Tale of Two Houses: “How the Other Half Loves” at PICT Classic Theatre
PICT Classic Theater opens their Oakland season with British playwright Alan Ayckbourn’s fast paced, rip-roaring play: How the Other Half Loves. How the Other Half Loves is one Ayckbourn’s first scripts that show his ability to master the classic farce. His ability to use the stage space as a tool to orchestrate a lot of the humor is astounding and something to behold when actors, directors and designers are able to successfully create these hilarious moments and scenes. PICT’s production pulls this task off beautifully.
From the moment you walk into The Charity Randall Theatre, you see PICT’s first big accomplishment, which is the beautiful set. It is a meld of two houses, one higher class than the other, which gives off the initial fun house effect. As the play begins you see the hilarity in the design, because as one family is arguing the other family is in between them because the chairs, sofas and tables are intermingled. We are able to see at the same time how the plot plays out between the families as Fiona Foster and Bob Phillips try to hide their affair from their spouses. The farce really begins as they involve the awkward, out of sorts Mary and William Detweiler. Director, Martin Giles, finds moments to use the set at his advantage to stage very hilarious blocking with the two families in the two different households.
With any farce a lot of the fun comes from the exaggerated characters on stage, which this production does not disappoint. The cast consists of arguably three of Pittsburgh’s most hilarious and talented actresses (Diana Michelle Griffith, Gayle Pazerski, and Karen Baum). Their three characters hold so much contrast on the stage between each other it is hard not to be bellied over with laughter as they interact with each other throughout the production. The men (Tony Bingham, Philip Winter, and James Fitzgerald) do not disappoint at all as their characters evolve through the play. Overall, the ensemble works beautifully together and their characterizations definitely provide the force that helps to create the flow of the play.
PICT’s production of How the Other Half Loves definitely provides the audience with an enjoyable evening. As the play begins and continues, it picks up the pace with how hectic the characters and scenes become that you cannot resist the amusement and laughter.
Audience Member Review by Jacob Wadsworth
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