Leon Ockenden, who has been thrilling Coronation Street fans in his role as Will Chatterton, stars in Alan Ayckbourn’s How the Other Loves which tours to the Theatre Royal Bath from Monday 2nd to Saturday 7th October. The stellar cast also features Robert Daws (The Royal, Outside Edge, Roger Roger), Caroline Langrishe (Lovejoy, Holby City, Judge John Deed), Charlie Brooks (EastEnders), Matthew Cottle (Game On) and Sara Crowe (Four Weddings and a Funeral).

How would you sum up Bob Phillips, the character you play in How the Other Loves?

Bob is a man of great appetite. He loves wine, women and song. 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 Bob and his wife Teresa (played by Charlie Brooks) in the play?

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

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

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'.

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

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?

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. As an actor you're an interpretive artist and you want really good writing – and there's no doubt this is really good writing. What's interesting working on it is it's so well-conceived that if you drop one word or change an 'um' or an 'oh' or an 'ah' it can throw off the whole scene. The challenge is to relish that precision.

Do you see any similarities between Will in Coronation Street and Bob in How the Other Half Loves? And in what ways are they different?

Both are very passionate men in very different ways. Will is introverted and Bob is extroverted. Also both men have made choices regarding their private lives that lead to combustible events. And in what ways are they different? Will is a lot more controlling and forward-thinking whereas Bob follows his nose and relies on intuition and instinct. Also Bob doesn't drug people and lock them in the boot of cars!

Is it a relief to be doing something light-hearted after Will’s very dramatic demise?

To be honest we had a lot of fun filming Will’s final scenes, but I do love being in something that is intentionally funny - I've been in plenty of productions that were otherwise! It's a privilege to go to work with such a great cast who are so adept at performing one of Ayckbourn's finest plays.

How is it working with Alan Strachan, especially given his close ties with Ayckbourn?

He has tireless patience and his enthusiasm for the piece is undimmed. Often when I'm not in a scene I'll watch him and he's so there and present and very supportive.

The play originally premiered in 1969. Are there things about the socio-political context that are very much of its time?

It's very much a period piece, but there's something very archetypal about the characters. [Laughs] And by the time it opens hopefully I'll have some really good sideburns. They are taking their time. They're a bit shy! As for the socio-political aspect, the interesting thing is that all of the men in the play are very much more 'I expect my dinner to be on the table and when I get home you take care of the baby, you do all of that stuff, and don't even ask me where I've been if I say I've been drinking in the pub but have rolled in at two in the morning'. In my marriage in real life it's the other way round.

What do you see as the key themes of the piece?

Like all good comedies it's about sex and money.

And what do you feel it is saying about class and marriage in the late-60s?

[Laughs] That it's all about sex and money.

What is it about the play that you feel will resonate with contemporary audiences?

People are always having affairs and people are always having awkward dinner parties. Ayckbourn's ability to poke fun at the way people try and make small talk with each other is second to none.

How are you finding the late-60s fashions?

I spend most of the first scene in a pair of red Y-fronts. Alan our director was very specific about the type of Y-fronts he wanted – these maroon ones that they all thought were very sexy back in the day. I've also got a great pair of flares. The costumes are great. That's the joy of doing period pieces; you get to play dress-up.

Are you looking forward to performing in Bath at the Theatre Royal?

It’s the West Country, where I'm from, so everyone I know will be coming to see it.