THINGS WE DO FOR LOVE by Alan Ayckbourn
Nottingham Theatre Royal
"Things We Do For Love" isn't a play that I knew, but I'm so glad it was introduced to me. It's a comedy all about attraction and the virtual masks we all wear in everyday life and what happens when we let these masks slip.
Take Barbara (Clare Price), a career woman and owner of the property, a smart tidy, stylish one bedroom apartment where she lives where there's not a thing out of place. Upstairs she rents out another small one bedroom flat and a basement flat, rented to Gilbert (Simon Gregor), the handyman/postman who just happens to have a "thing" about Barbara, which includes creating a ceiling mural in his flat of Barbara in the nude. he also has a penchant for wearing her clothes, which she has given to him to take to the charity shop, but never quite gets there!
Barbara's college friend, Nikki (Natalie Imbruglia) is about to rent the upper flat with her fiancé Hamish (Edward Bennett), just until the house they are buying is completed. We find out Nikki has just come out of a stormy and violent relationship eight months previous, and Hamish is her ideal man. Barbara gave up on love after her virginity was taken by the school janitor's son, Coot, who had a nosebleed while in the act. And while we have the image that Nikki and Hamish are at it like rabbits, nothing could be further than the truth! I think we can all see where this story is leading to!
Well they say opposites attract, and that is the case here, and where Hamish and Barbara get off on completely the wrong foot, Barbara's safe, middle class image is transformed into a ravenous man eater with Hamish. Nikki is then told by Hamish and Barbara about the dalliance and Nikki decides to shred every piece of clothing Hamish owns and walks out. Attracted by the violent row that Barbara and Hamish are having, Gilbert, who has been touching up his art work, falls and breaks his leg and emerges from the basement flat bedecked in black dress, high heels and blond wig, and is taken to hospital. And none of them live happily ever after.
it's a great set, spread over the three separate flats, the middle elaborate and highly ornate flat, the top flat, well we can only see the ankles of the actors up there, and the basement flat where we get to see the ceiling section, but I bet it took an age to get the set in place and construct. Hats off to the designer, Giles Cadle.
All four actors were excellent and a surprise to discover this was Natalie's stage debut, what a natural! There's a very funny scene where Gilbert turns up at the evening tea at Barbara's blind drunk because he felt it a privilege to be allowed over the threshold. A classic Ayckbourn comedy well acted.
"Things We Do For Love" is on until Saturday 3 May 2014