Things We Do For Love | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Things We Do For Love

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Things We Do For Love, Organic Theater Company. With over 50 works to his credit, Alan Ayckbourn is a contender for the title of Britain's most prolific author. And next to Shakespeare, he's the most produced playwright in his home country, which loves his stuff. And for good reason: with few exceptions Ayckbourn's works are familiar and pleasantly nostalgic, either white-collar comedies of manners or ribald farces. This 1998 comedy is a bit of both.

By Ayckbourn's standards, Things We Do for Love is a relatively modest affair. Eschewing the epic scale of his theatrical diptych House and Garden, he gives the play just four giddy, sex-starved characters, the occupants of three flats in a London building. But the problems that have dogged him throughout his career are on display here: at least two of the characters--a spoiled fiancee and an alcoholic postman--are underwritten, and at nearly two and a half hours, the play cries out for a more economical treatment.

The cast--particularly Hollis McCarthy as beleaguered, numb executive assistant Barbara Trapes--does an admirable job of giving Ayckbourn's stereotypes an emotional backbone. And Stephen Packard's set design, which cleverly reveals sections of all three flats, adds a nice touch. This isn't a great play by any stretch, but in director William Pullinsi's hands it remains engaging--even after intermission, when the climax is patently obvious to everyone but the characters.

--Nick Green

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