Things We Do For Love
a kate west review
by Alan Ayckbourn
directed by Barry Phillips
at the Odyssey Theatre,
May 8 –
Barbara (Stephanie Nash) considers herself happy and self-reliant and in no need of the entanglements of love. Her friend Nikki (Caitlyn Shannon) is unlucky in love, always hopeful, yet forever picking the wrong abusive men again and again. But this time she has finally struck gold with gentle, good-natured Hamish (James Tupper). Barbara takes an instant dislike to him, foreshadowing the inevitable clash and reconciliation of two people hating each other and then of course falling in love. It happens a bit too quickly, in spite of Playwright Alan Ayckbourn’s initial set up of Barbara’s obvious deep-seated need for affection. In the process, they hurt sweet Nikki terribly and are so wracked with guilt that they almost call the whole thing off but ultimately decide to go for it. Life is short and good love is hard to find.
Stephanie Nash is good as the stiff and properly British Barbara, although she might have punched up her underlying passionate nature a notch. James Tupper is wonderfully sincere and ravenously attractive as the vegetarian Scottsman, Hamish, and Caitlyn Shannon is delightfully simple with a crowd-pleasing accent that nicely punctuates her amusing delivery. Greg Mullavey does a nice turn as the comic relief neighbor/postman Gilbert who lives in the basement and is secretly obsessed with Barbara. Each actor holds his/her own and keeps up quite well with the comic timing.
Director Barry Phillips has assembled an appealing production, although the scene transitions seem a little awkward and the ends of scenes rather abrupt. Set Designer Don Llewellyn has created a uniquely delightful set which contains a window into the downstairs basement and a peek into the guest room above. The audience can only see the upper bodies of anyone in the basement and the legs of the people upstairs and it works very well in adding that extra bit of zaniness.
All in all, this is the type of production you may not remember forever, but while you’re there, it is amusing, good, harmless fun. A nice summer respite.