AFTER its West End revival at the Haymarket, Alan Strachan's production of Alan Ayckbourn's comedy of matrimonial mishaps How The Other Half Loves is on tour, visiting the Grand Opera House in York from Monday.

This is the 1969 Ayckbourn social satire with one set, two separate but over-lapping living rooms and three couples, Frank and Fiona Foster, Bob and Theresa Phillips and William and Mary Featherstone, with the action taking place in both contrasting houses simultaneously.

Frank employs Bob and William; Fiona is having an affair with Bob, and as they clumsily try to cover it up, their spouses’ intervention only adds to the confusion. William and Mary are hopelessly stuck in the middle, falsely accused of adultery and bewildered as to how they have become involved, and the play concludes with one of Ayckbourn's most celebrated scenes, wherein they attend two disastrous dinner parties on successive nights, played out at the same time in the Foster and Phillips' homes.

Matthew Cottle's William, from the West End company, is joined in Strachan's touring cast by Sara Crowe as Mary; Robert Daws and Caroline Langrishe as Frank and Fiona and Leon Ockenden and Charlie Brooks as Bob and Teresa.

Best known for her soap opera years caught up in cocaine addiction, murder and prostitution as wildcat Janine Butcher in EastEnders, Charlie is making both her Ayckbourn and York debut. "Teresa is fiery and strong, like Janine, but I think the similarities end there," she says.

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

Working with Alan Strachan has been a boon. "You feel confident with Alan because he really knows his Ayckbourn stuff," says Charlie. "He allowed us to find out feet in the roles in rehearsals, having directed it in the West End last year.

"But I didn't realise just how choreographed it was until we performed it: it 's like a dance. 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."

York Press:

Charlie Brooks, third from left, with fellow cast members Robert Daws, Sara Crowe, Leon Ockenden, Caroline Langrishe and Matthew Cottle in How The Other Half Loves

Ayckbourn is adamant his play should remain set in 1969, and Charlie concurs with his stance, particularly in relation to Teresa, a feisty character who has a volatile relationship with her husband and certainly knows what she wants. "She's on the verge of independence and feminism at the end of the Sixties," she says. "In 1969 women were sort of on the cusp of having more of a voice and she's certainly one of those women.

"She's constantly writing political things to the paper and wants to better herself, questioning equality and her and Bob's parental roles. That's really nice for me to play. I think it would be impossible to bring the play up to date because it's very much set in that era, likewise with the language and the music choices.

"It's interesting because women were definitely treated quite differently by men at that time, and there are a lot of sexist jokes that you just have to embrace."

Charlie, who led the cast in North Yorkshireman Nikolai Foster's touring production of Jonathan Harvey's Beautiful Thing in 2015, is enjoying her time back on the road. "Theatre is completely different and far more rewarding [than television]," she says. "I feel I learn much more and go on more of a journey. You're performing the same material night after night, so it’s important to keep it fresh. You also have to learn to handle the nerves!

"Being on tour is a great way to see the country and we're lucky enough to have a really wonderful cast, so I'm constantly learning from doing the performances. The whole project is something new for me, as I haven't really done much comedy before and it's all about the timing."

While in York for the first time, where might Charlie venture? "I'll be heading out to the Brontes' house at Haworth," she says. "I'm desperate to get down to the museum. I'm a big fan of their work."

Alan Ayckbourn's How The Other Half Loves runs at Grand Opera House, York, from Monday to Saturday (October 9 to 14), 7.30pm plus 2.30pm, Wednesday and Saturday. Box office: 0844 871 3024 or at