Rebecca Cooper plays Mary Featherstone in Wiltshire Creative’s production of Alan Ayckbourn’s How the Other Half Loves.
Gareth Machin directs Sam Alexander (William Featherstone), Sherry Baines (Fiona Foster), Philip Bretherton (Frank Foster), and Rebecca Cooper (Mary Featherstone), Haydn Oakley (Bob Phillips), and Joanna van Kampen (Teresa Phillips).
Included in the cast, are many actors who are making their return to Salisbury Playhouse. Rebecca Cooper featured in Snow White and the Happy Ever After Beauty Salon, and Her Naked Skin. Haydn Oakley was in Betty Blue Eyes, Philip Bretheron and Sherry Baines were both in Before The Party, and Joanna van Kampen featured in The Magna Carta Plays. Sam Alexander makes his playhouse debut.
How the Other Half Loves opens at Salisbury Playhouse on 14 February, with previews from 9 February, and runs until 4 March.
You’re appearing in How The Other Half Loves, what can you tell us about the play?
How The Other Half Loves is a real life comedy/tragedy look into the lives of three couples, set in 1972. Some bits are very very funny, and other parts give you a sharp intake of breath, when you recognise/sympathise with what a character might be going through.
It’s Ayckbourn through and through – a script within a script full of stage directions to aid the action, and every word of dialogue carefully chosen. Oh, and on stage at the same time are two different lounges, that get used at the same time, in a Venn diagram of logistics!
What was it about Alan Ayckbourn’s script that made you want to be part of this production?
I could immediately see the challenge of all the ‘business’ and timings to make the split world of the play work. I quite fancied having a go at that, and working with 5 other actors to make it happen (as well as Gareth and our brilliant stage management team). I also haven’t done much set in the early 70s so I looked forward to doing some research and anchoring myself in that era.
You’re playing Mary Featherstone, what do you love and also find most challenging about the character?
When I found out about Mary, there were more than a couple of similarities between us which I thought would be fun to develop. She is hopelessly helpless in social situations which brings some great fun to be had. This also brings my greatest challenge, as in Act 2 she summons enormous courage to end up where she is, so that’s what I’m finding through rehearsal at the moment.
What are you looking forward to most about coming back to work at Salisbury Playhouse?
I LOVE working at the Playhouse. The team is immense, Gareth is a brilliant director, and the audiences are really supportive. I have also come back to the original digs I stayed in when I first worked here and it’s lovely having a good chat before heading to rehearsal. Once we are up and running I can’t wait to visit all the touristy places again.
Why do you think Ayckbourn’s brand of confusion and chaos appeals so much to audiences?
I think audiences enjoy Ayckbourn because he captures how we live – not everything is black and white, and people can relate to that, which also results in lots of comedy, and to be honest, I think people want to have a laugh (and a think) when they come to watch something. Also, it’s always a joy to see a bit of theatricality in terms of the geography of his plays – our set looks like it’s going to be fantastic.
What would you say to anyone thinking of booking to see How The Other Half Loves?
If you’re thinking of booking your tickets then BOOK! Book your tickets if you’ve never been to Salisbury (it’s a lovely theatre and a great day out), and book your tickets if you have, as you’ll know how a great script will translate to the Salisbury Playhouse stage!!