Things We Do For Love

REVIEW by Willard Manus

LOS ANGELES -- Alan Ayckbourn is the Neil Simon of Great Britain--a popular and prolific playwright who knows how to blend comedy and drama into a single, satisfying theatrical potion that slides down the gullet easily. In THINGS WE DO FOR LOVE, his 52nd play, he looks at sexual obsession with a darkly satirical eye, making us laugh at its consequences even as we are wincing in pain.

Ayckbourn, who is a director as well as a writer, is a skilled stage craftsman. THINGS takes place in a section of three London flats. The main focus is on the drawing room belonging to Barbara (Stephanie Nash), a single, spiky woman who has rented the upstairs floor to a young couple, Nikki (Caitlyn Shannon) and Hamish (James Tupper), who, when they are home, are seen only from the kneecap down. In the basement lives Gilbert (Greg Mullavey), a slow-witted postman who has a crush on Barbara that borders on fetishism. These four characters are played to perfection by director Barry Philips' cast, all of whom have a wonderful way with comedy.

At the heart of THINGS is a triangular situation: Nikki and Hamish are newly in love and thinking of marriage, a plan that is turned upside down when Hamish and Barbara, the unlikeliest couple in the world--she's a snob, he's a down-to-earth Scotsman--fall in lust with each other. The attraction is played for laughs, but it causes pain and heartbreak in the end--even for the cross-dressing Gilbert in his basement hovel.

THING'S marvelous set is by Don Llewellyn. Ron Sossi produced for the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd. Thru July 11, call (310) 477-2055 or visit