Reviewed by Jeffrey R Smith of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle

The award winning Off Broadway West Theatre Company is now, through July 31, presenting Alan Ayckbourn’s hilarious bedroom farce: HOW THE OTHER HALF LOVES.

Director Richard Harder—never one to back down from a theatrical challenge—has proven himself again in this brisk contraplex confection.

Of all forms of stage comedy, farce is probably the most difficult to stage.

The average British farce has a minimum of seven doors and exit ways.

Traditionally each exit must be used—with precision timing— a minimum of twenty-seven times: during each act.

Ayckbourn has upped the ante on the degree of complexity of this show by superimposing two households: The Foster’s and the Phillips’ onto one set.

James Darbyshire (as Bob Phillips) expertly tackles what is arguably the most demanding role in this ensemble piece: he plays the cuckold that is forever converging on the sordid truth but is forever dodging the facts asymptotically: remaining safely just beyond the pale of reality and reason.

Mister Darbyshire has mastered the art of speaking with an intelligent manner while playing the fool.

Sylvia Kratins (as MRS Fiona Foster) is a deliciously duplicitous vixen, over-charged by her id and endocrine system, tip-toeing around discovery and soaring above suspicion: she plays a woman of conspicuous sophistication and elegance who has not come untethered from her erotic shadow.

It would be appropriate to say that Jeff Garrett was ideally cast as the philandering Frank Foster, but why set off the smoke alarms in his home.

MR Garret’s Frank superbly plays the kind of slithering reptile that no office building, cul-de-sac or trailer park should be without: he keeps husbands attentive and on their toes, and keeps women feeling attractive.

Corinne Proctor shows real finesse in her portrayal of the too trusting Teresa Phillips: a new mother who is totally dissed by her Lothario husband: Frank.

MS Proctor slowly ratchets up her ire, one notch at a time, until she reaches a roiling boil.

No farce would be complete without the perplexed innocents: the ancillary casualties of the capers, assignations and intrigues; thus we have the Featherstones: Mary and William, played with blithe naiveté by Jocelyn Stringer and Adam Simpson.

HOW THE OTHER HALF LOVES is the best entertainment value to be found in San Francisco this summer.

For tickets call 800-838-3006 or visit the Off Broadway West website at