IN THE run up to stage show How the Other Half Loves coming to Brighton, leading cast members Leon Ockenden, who will play Bob Philips, and Charlie Brooks, who is cast as Teresa Philips, tell JOSH WALTON what to expect.

How would you sum up Bob and Teresa?

Leon: Bob is a man of great appetite. He loves wine, women and song.

Charlie: I’d describe Teresa as quite a feisty character. She has a volatile relationship with her husband but she certainly knows what she wants.

Leon: Any time you have characters who teeter on the extremes of emotions they’re always lots of fun to play.

What’s the dynamic between them in the play?

Leon: They’re either tearing each other’s eyes out or getting really passionate with each other.

Charlie: How volatile they are makes it quite exciting for us as actors.

Leon: During rehearsals and going through the text, you see how cleverly constructed the whole play is. All of the three different couples have their own sort of string in the harmony of the piece. The vibration of Teresa and Bob’s relationship works really well because the other set on stage at the same time is Frank and Fiona’s house and they’re a very different couple.

Charlie: They’re a very contrasting couple in terms of who they are, both in class and in their relationship. We’re explosive whereas I think all of their explosions are going on inside.

Why do you think Alan Ayckbourn is so revered as a playwright?

Leon: This is my first experience of doing an Ayckbourn play and I think one of the reasons he’s so revered is because you read the play and you think it’s funny, then you start working on it and you can’t believe just how funny it really is. What is so brilliant about his comedies and the kind of social satire that this play is – and it’s such a scathing satire – is how the laughs never come at the expense of the story. He’s not writing and thinking, ‘I’m going for a laugh here’.

Charlie: This is my first Ayckbourn too and I’ve been quite surprised at how hilarious it feels. It’s not just to do with the writing but also the other actors in the show who are so brilliant. We’ve spent a lot of time in rehearsals laughing.

Why do you think How The Other Half Loves remains one of his most cherished works?

Leon: It’s so accurately observed. I imagine the people in the audience who are like the characters in the play will be laughing and going ‘Oh my God, we’re nothing like those people’ when in fact they’re exactly like them. It’s his skill with observation. Apparently when he wrote this play he came up with the name first, he got commissioned to write it off the back of that name, then he had to write it to order. He was sat in his flat looking out at a tower block and seeing all the different people and couples living their lives across the way. Him trying to imagine what they were talking about is how it evolved. It’s so accurately observed. We all know people like the people in the play.

As this is your first time tackling Ayckbourn, are there any particular challenges for you as actors?

Charlie: The biggest challenges are the rhythm of the piece and the timing and the choreography because we’re constantly navigating our way around the stage. The audience see two living rooms at once so we have to co-exist with another couple on stage and pretend they’re not there. I find the geography of it all quite challenging. As well as managing to deliver the lines with perfect precision you have to remember a bit of a dance.

Leon: Our director, Alan Strachan, who knows Alan Ayckbourn very well and has collaborated with him lots, told us Ayckbourn delights in making it hard for actors. There’s a kind of mischievousness to that.

The tour calls at the Theatre Royal Brighton. Are you excited?

Charlie: I adore Brighton. I have many friends so I’m sure it’ll be a hoot. I love The Lanes in Brighton and walking along the seafront.

Leon: Because Brighton have been promoted to the Premier League I’m hoping to be able to see them during that week.