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Playhouse reveals 'How the Other Half Loves'

Bill Carmichael is no Robert Morley-and that's good. Carmichael plays the part of Frank Foster in the Saint Michael's Playhouse production of Alan Ayckbourn's "How the Other Half Loves". It's London in the swingin' '60s, and Frank's sophisticated wife Fiona (Sarah Carleton) is having an affair with crude Bob Phillips (John Patrick Hayden), one of Frank's young employees. Frank is clueless.

When rotund English actor Robert Morley played Frank in the London premiere of "Other Half" about 40 years ago, it was playwright Alan Ayckbourn who was clueless-clueless about how to handle Morley. Although Ayckbourn had written the play as an ensemble piece exploring the impact of class, income, and education on sexual behavior, Morley made it into his personal star vehicle. He changed much of the dialogue and wreaked havoc onstage. Morley's antics made "Other Half" a smash hit, but when Ayckbourn watched the different, distorted play, he would "sit rather quietly and weep in corners."

Unlike Morley, Bill Carmichael is a team player, and the Playhouse's "Other Half" is a team play. This particular thespian team could win the World Cup of comedy.

The bedroom farce focuses on the effect that Fiona's fling with Bob has on them, on their spouses, and on another na ve couple drawn into the marital maelstrom. John Going deftly directs the six superb character actors, and the situation comedy is greatly aided by Ayckbourn's adroit use of space and time.

A single set (cleverly designed by Ken Goldstein) represents the Fosters' and the Phillips' separate but over-lapping living rooms. Action takes place in both homes simultaneously, and two dinner parties given on different nights are presented on stage at the same time. Einstein would have loved the space-time relativity.

"How the Other Half Loves" will be on view at the McCarthy Arts Center through July 25. Visit the '60s once again in the playhouse's final summer show, "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do," July 28-Aug 8. For tickets and other information, call 654-3281 or visit academics.smcvt.edu/playhouse.

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