“Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!”
The announcer of a boxing match shouts in excitement after a quick right by George Foreman sends his opponent to the mat.
It really came out of nowhere.
Alan Ayckbourn’s “How the Other Half Loves,” which had its Los Angeles Pierce College Theater debut Friday night, premiered in 1969 as the ninth of what today is more than 70 plays by the heralded master of the absurdist’s genre of comical theater: British farce.
A 43-year-old play of a foreign niche genre might sound a little out-of-left-field. But, really, it was more like Foreman’s right glove.
Six characters compose three married English couples. The husband of a working class couple and his boss’s wife drag in a third couple when they use them as their alibis to cover up their affair.
It may not seem to add up. And, really, it’s not entirely meant to. But, long story short, a Friends-meets-Monty-Python brand of hilarity ensues.
An unshifting set of two living rooms spliced together, replete with alternating patterns of wallpaper and two overlapping dining tables, proves a fittingly surreal playground for the the play’s farcical antics.
When the players pick up telephones ringing some four feet away from one another, the audience is beckoned to play along and suspend belief.
The set, however, is just as ridiculous as it is ingenious. The plot, characters and set all uniformly express a haphazard intertwining of things normally kept private.
The plot shucks and jives, and it’s better experienced being dragged behind rather than spent trying to keep up.
The characters aren’t so much introduced as dumped on your head, say, like a bowl of air-freshener-scented soup or the contents of leaking upstairs toilet.
Frank Foster, the boss of the other two husbands, is brought to light as an unrelentingly absent-minded misguided sleuth by Michael Chandler, and he picks out laughs from places few would ever find them.
Allison Kranz, making her LAPC debut, wrenches the jerkily timid Mary Featherstone out of her shell in powerfully handling a scene wherein she flips the play’s misogynistic undertones upside down.
The humor throughout has a distinctly British flavor (or, as far as some can tell, just not American), so there are moments that will fall flat on some audiences.
Though the English accents employed by every actor throughout the entire play don’t so much set the stage as detract from it, there’s still plenty of talent spinning a story of fast-paced fantastical farce.
Putting on the long lost gloves of a far removed genre, “How the Other Half Loves” serves up a welcome one-two at the LAPC Theater this Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.