How The Other Half Loves: Frequently Asked Questions

Alan Ayckbourn's Archivist Simon Murgatroyd answers some of the most frequently asked questions about Alan Ayckbourn's How The Other Half Loves.

How The Other Half Loves is often described as a farce, but Alan Ayckbourn says he has written only one farce - Taking Steps. Is How The Other Half Loves a farce?
It depends! Depending on how you define farce, How The Other Half Loves can be described as a farce rather than, say, a comedy. In the strictest definition of the term farce, it doesn't fulfil the generally accepted criteria - hence why Alan Ayckbourn considers Taking Steps to be his only true farce. However, farce as a genre is generally wider than it once was and there are enough farcical elements within the play that it could be called a farce and Alan Ayckbourn agrees that it does border on farce. Essentially, most observers would accept that How The Other Half Loves is a farce, but could equally be described as a comedy without issue.

I'm interested in staging How The Other Half Loves in North America and have the Americanised version of the script. Which should I use?
Until very recently, the only text of How The Other Half Loves available in North America was the Samuel French edition of the original Broadway production, which was heavily 'Americanised' by Alan Ayckbourn and the director Gene Saks. In recent years, Samuel French has replaced this edition with the original British text of the play. Strictly speaking, the British version of the play should be used. The 'Americanised' version was always a compromise and did the play no favours. American audiences are now so used to British plays - and appear to have had no problem whatsoever with all the other Ayckbourn plays which haven't been Americanised! - that the preference has to be for the original text.

All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd.