Marriage is center stage in 'How The Other Half Loves' at North Coast Repertory Theatre

THEATER PREVIEW:

For Sir Alan Ayckbourn's play, "How The Other Half Loves," North Coast Repertory Theatre artistic director David Ellenstein brought in director Geoffrey Sherman, whose resume is international. Sherman's awards include two Obies, as a producer and director. He has also received Best Production and Best Director awards for "Angels in America," "Arcadia" and "The Rocky Horror Show."

"David and I worked together a number of times before," Sherman said. "When he heard I was leaving my job as producing artistic director of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, he called to see if I might be interested in freelance work in San Diego. Given my longtime regard for San Diego and Alan Ayckbourn, I was happy to say 'yes!' immediately. The play debuted in 1969, but has kept up with the times."

"How The Other Half Loves" is a fast-paced, modern comedy full of razor-sharp dialogue, split-second timing and plot twists. It's penned around three very different marriages that come under transition. For his cast, Sherman said he was looking for actors with an English accent, comedic timing, and who would work well together. Enter: Jacqueline Ritz, James Newcomb, Sharon Rietkerk, Christopher M. Williams, Noelle Marion and Benjamin Cole.

In recent years, the 79-year-old playwright Ayckbourn has been inducted into American Theater's Hall of Fame, received the 2010 Critics' Circle Award for Services to the Arts, and became the first British playwright to receive both Olivier and Tony Special Lifetime Achievement Awards. He was knighted in 1997 for "services to theatre."

Of directing comedies, Sherman said: "I love them. The more you laugh, the better. In this case, it's a matter of these characters not running into each other on the stage — because it's rare to stage two different parties at the same time."

He added that his production goal is to have audiences smiling and remembering the play's poignant moments of truth, when they leave the theater: "Hopefully, they will spend some time in the car talking about why they found the show more moving than they expected from a 50-year-old comedy. I also hope that the evening will stimulate discussion about the role of women in the 21st Century."

• IF YOU GO: "How The Other Half Loves," plays April 11-May 6, 2018 at North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach. Tickets from $42. (858) 481-1055. northcoastrep.org

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