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the Complete Review
the complete review - drama

Things We Do for Love

Alan Ayckbourn

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To purchase Things We Do for Love

Title: Things We Do for Love
Author: Alan Ayckbourn
Genre: Drama
Written: 1997
Length: 119 pages
Availability: Things We Do for Love - US
Things We Do for Love - UK
  • Things We Do for Love was first performed 29 April 1997 at the Stephen Joseph Theatre

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Our Assessment:

B : a decent entertainment, if a bit rough-and-tumble

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Guardian B+ 7/5/1997 Lyn Gardner
The Guardian A 5/3/1998 Michael Billington
The Spectator A 14/3/1998 Sheridan Morley
The Times A 5/3/1998 Benedict Nightingale
TLS . 10/4/1998 John Stokes

  Review Consensus:

  Not quite a consensus, but most very enthusiastic

  From the Reviews:
  • "It sounds like classic Ayckbourn territory, but it is very much on the light side, with Ayckbourn the director so determined to send up Ayckbourn the writer that you never really get to weep with either laughter or tears." - Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

  • "Love, it implies, invariably involves cruelty, pain and humiliation. The extraordinary thing is that Ayckbourn, in his own best play of the decade, handles a potentially tragic theme with a rueful comic zest. (...) Ayckbourn's virtue is that he tells the unflinching truth. (...) This memorably bruising comedy is a Private Lives for the nineties." - Michael Billington, The Guardian

  • "(A) wondrous mix of domestic comedy and sexual tragedy, the two empires of which he has always been the master contemporary playwright. (...) (A) Feydeau bedroom and living-room farce which veers briefly over to Strindberg; a play about people who need people enough to knock them about a bit in a raw, painful and uproarious evening." - Sheridan Morley, The Spectator

  • "It is sharp, it is gorgeously funny" - Benedict Nightingale, The Times

  • "Alan Ayckbourn's latest, Things We Do For Love, belongs to an uncomfortable genre, the betrayal farce, and it marks a return to the style of his earliest work." - John Stokes, Times Literary Supplement

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       There are only four character in Things We Do for Love. Barbara owns 56 Bloom Street, and it is her flat that is the center of the action (and of the stage). Gilbert, a postal worker, lives in the flat beneath her; only the topmost part of it is visible to the audience. The flat above Barbara's has recently been vacated, and Barbara has promised it to her schoolfriend Nikki, who needs a place to stay while she and her new beau, Hamish, fix up their house. Only the bottommost part of this flat is visible to the audience.
       The play begins with Gilbert lending a hand in fixing up the empty flat, the night before Nikki and Hamish are meant to move in. Gilbert is always lending a hand, a helpful but harmless-seeming fellow. Barbara is on edge, annoyed by the state the flat has been left in (and, it turns out, annoyed by most everything in her life).
       Nikki arrives and the old friends catch up. Neither has been particularly lucky in love: Nikki's ex beat her, while Barbara is something of an old maid (with a hopeless crush, it appears, on her boss). But Nikki is happy with Hamish now -- giddily so, as Ayckbourn has them moon over each other. Barbara isn't at all impressed by him.
       Gilbert makes himself helpful again as the new couple move in, and in the shuffling between the flats things then get more complicated. Gilbert, it turns out, is fonder of Barbara than anyone imagined. Practically only the ceiling of his flat is visible to the audience, but he actually keeps quite busy there. Barbara and Hamish, meanwhile, find that though they can barely stand each other they are also drawn, irresistibly, to each other.
       Ayckbourn unfolds the story quite nicely -- though it all comes a bit more quickly and more extremely than one would imagine were possible. There are some very funny bits (though much of this probably plays better on the stage than on the page), and everyone's life is turned quite upside down. Love ain't easy -- and it certainly isn't here. The characters have the bruises and broken bones to prove it.
       A bit melancholy, a bit bitter, with a bit too much exaggeration, Things We Do for Love is a fine but not remarkable entertainment. A decent read, and probably a good night at the theatre, but little more.

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Things We Do for Love: Reviews: Alan Ayckbourn: Other books by Alan Ayckbourn under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Drama under review

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About the Author:

       British playwright Alan Ayckbourn was born in 1939. He has written more than fifty plays.

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© 2002-2009 the complete review

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