How The Other Half Loves: West End ReviewsHow The Other Half Loves was a huge success in London, cementing Alan Ayckbourn's success following Relatively Speaking in 1967 and has remained one of his most popular and performed plays. The London production was also over-shadowed by the actor Robert Morley, who dominated what was initially written as an ensemble piece, and - arguably - transformed the nature of the play both by how approached the role as a star vehicle and his perpetual improvising of the dialogue. The extracts below offers a taste of how the play was received and how the actions of Robert Morley seriously affected the perception of the play.
Daily Express (Herbert Kretzmer)
Alan Ayckbourn's new play at the Lyric is booth very clever and very poor. It will probably get by on its cleverness and become another long-running hit for Robert Morley, who looms large in the plot…. I admire the hard work that has gone into How The Other Half Loves, but the play itself is thin and crass. It is all work, in fact, and no play.
Daily Mail (Peter Lewis)
An original idea like this is a rare thing in comedy and it is never less than intriguing.
Daily Telegraph (Eric Shorter)
He [Alan Ayckbourn] has now contrived a farce of even more finely and cleverly wrought confusion. He has the nerve to bring the setting into it too. The effect of this daring tends to wither before the end but the amusement in general is admirably neat and constant.
Evening News (Felix Barker)
This particular egg by Alan Ayckbourn may not be pure gold but I think it will prove gilt-edged. It has a double yolk, is a bit scrambled, but you have to admire the author's originality.
Of course it's quite absurd, and of course all the characters behave in a totally idiotic fashion, but nevertheless it is very, very funny…. A perfectly daft evening which I imagine will be a considerable success.
Financial Times (B.A. Young)
Alan Ayckbourn must be the most ingenious writer of situation comedy in our day…. With no reservations at all, I must say this is as enjoyable an evening of relaxing comedy as we have had in a long time.
The Guardian (Philip Hope-Wallace)
No doubt it will run because it has Robert Morley is such a draw and there was rely affectionate appreciation of him last night. But Mr Morley has little enough scope for his special brand of sarcasm…. I found myself joining in the laughs in the second half but I do not strongly recommend this as a good example of its kind.
Plays And Players (Helen Dawson)
Ayckbourn has an effervescent theatrical intelligence, a cynical line in jokes and an unsentimental attitude to his cardboard characters.
Punch (Jeremy Kingston)
The play that is intricately and elegantly plotted like a geometric equation is a rarity. Alan Ayckbourn's Relatively Speaking belonged to the category and with How The Other Half Loves he successfully produces another.
The Stage (R.B. Marriott)
[How The Other Half Loves] is very amusing at its best, and otherwise only interesting by the skin of its teeth. The least of it comes in the early scenes. Afterwards, things steadily get much better, and it winds up excellently.
The play has both lost and gained [since the critic saw it - minus Robert Morley - in Leicester]. It has lost its symmetry. Instead of six equally important characters, we have the over-powering precedes of Mr Morley himself. Speaking - if memory serves me right - his own rather than the author's dialogue. He is like a turtle in a fish tank, imposing his rhythm on the environment and making the others tremble in his ripples.
Sunday Times (Harold Hobson)
Elizabeth Ashton is quite beautiful, making everybody else on stage except Robert Morley look as if their performances had been recruited from the rejects of the annual pantomime in a backward village.
The Times (Irving Wardle)
Ayckbourn has no second line of defence. With no great powers of characterisation or dialogue, and with no message to deliver, he stands or falls entirely by his manipulation of incident; and the fun he offers is akin to watching a house of cards continually in danger of collapse.
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