Alan Ayckbourn’s classic comedy, How The Other Half Loves, is expected to be a sell-out when it comes to the Compass Theatre later this month.
The play, staged by Ruislip Dramatic Society, involves three couples, two houses and a secret affair which cause hilarious confusion at two dinner parties, played out on stage simultaneously.
Society vice-chairman David Iggulden plays Bob Phillips, whose affair with his boss’s wife, Fiona, is about to be discovered.
The pair attempt to divert suspicions by pointing the finger at an innocent, unsuspecting couple in their office, and pretend it is they who are ‘playing away’.
Their plan works, until their respective partners both invite the couple to separate dinners, in an attempt to save their marriage.
Confusion mounts and the guests switch frantically between meals in an hilarious scene that has been a favourite among audiences since it debuted in London’s West End in 1969.
David said: “Because there are two scenes happening at the same time, we don’t have the usual conversational cues, and we have to ignore one another on stage as we are not meant to acknowledge the other party.
“It’s made for some comical rehearsals and it will be quite a spectacle watching us criss-cross all the time.
“I think it’s going to be quite something to stage it at The Compass and bring it to a local audience.”
Set in the 1970s with period props and costumes, the play promises to give an authentic insight into how times (as well as trouser width) have changed.
David said: “The audience will really notice how society’s views of working women have changed since the 1970s; the attitude is very different.
“As are the sideburns. I am currently growing mine. We are taking this very seriously,” he said.
The play enjoyed two years in the West End in the early 1970s and has been performed by countless groups ever since.
Ayckbourn is now second only to Shakespeare as the most performed playwright in the world; quite a feat when you consider Shakespeare has almost 500 years on him.
“We try to cover a broad range of comedies and this appealed to us as it’s one of Ayckbourn’s best-loved plays,” said David.
“We’ve performed his work before and it’s always well received.
“It’s important for people to be able to access theatre without having to travel into London and pay London prices.”
He said the troupe chooses what to perform not only on what they think audiences will enjoy but what will suit the actors.
“When How the Other Half Loves was mentioned, we could immediately imagine the members in their roles, so we went for it,” said David.
“We were planning on switching to something more conventional after our last show, Calender Girls, but it hasn’t really worked out like that.”
Originally called Ruislip and District Musical and Dramatic Society at its inception in 1924, the drama group split in 1934, with the acting branch becoming RDS and the musical arm becoming Ruislip Operatic Society, also still going strong.
In years gone by, RDS would rehearse in a ‘tin tabernacle’ in Bury Street, a corrugated metal building which has since been replaced by Ruislip Youth Club.
The group performed at the Ruislip Rivoli Cinema until it closed in 1966, then moved to Ruislip Village Hall, later relocating to the Winston Churchill Hall, in the Manor Farm complex.
Since 1993 the company has used The Compass Theatre, in Glebe Avenue, Ickenham, for its biannual plays.
“The society has changed quite a lot over the years, it’s pretty amazing how it’s evolved,” said David.
He said anyone wishing to get involved is welcome to attend open auditions for their plays, which are staged in April and November.
“We always welcome new people and roles don’t just go to the old faces; the best person will get the part,” said David.
“We’re quite a small group, which is nice as we all get to know each other really well.”
RDS is hoping to celebrate its 90th anniversary next year with a period play or a large-scale costume production.
“It will definitely be something prestigious involving loads of our members.
“We have all sorts of ideas,” added David.
? How the Other Half Loves is at The Compass Theatre, Glebe Avenue, Ickenham, from April 24 to 27 at 7.45pm daily. Tickets cost £11 or £10 with concessions on Wednesday and Thursday. For tickets, call RDS on 01895 675 343 or The Compass box office on 01895 673 200.