Love is a funny old thing. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry, it makes you angry and it gives you butterflies in your stomach all at the same time. Apparently it also makes you lock each other in cupboards and punch each other in the face. At least according to Alan Ayckbourn’s plays Things We Do For Love it does.
Barbara lives a happy single life. She has a powerful career and a nice house in Fulham but she has never been in love. When old school friend Nikki comes to stay for a few days (while her new house is being renovated) they laugh and reminisce over old times and Nikki’s abusive ex-husband. Luckily Nikki has a new fiancée, Hamish, who she lovingly explains has never punched her in the face, even though she probably deserves it.
Downstairs, lives Gilbert, secretly lusting over Barbara, wearing her clothes and painting naked pictures of her on his bedroom ceiling. His wife died in the years before and he has latched on to the kindness of his landlady and unbeknown to her, fallen in love.
The first act in this play is rather slow, not seeming to go anywhere fast but the surprising end to the first act perks up interest in how things are going to pan out in the end. As with any good comedy play, all hell breaks loose. Furniture is smashed up and shelves fall off the walls, ending in a punch up between the couple.
Things We Do For Love is almost like an episode of Jeremy Kyle. Love, adultery, abuse and that popular question “why stay together if you are being abused?”. The answer is always “because I love him” and apparently these are the things we do for love. This play is a comedy and doesn’t focus just around abuse, however is does seem to give the impression that it is more acceptable to be abused by your partner if it is done through love.
Pop star and ex-Neighbours actress Natalie Imbruglia makes her stage debut as Nikki, the annoying girlfriend who isn’t particularly bright. She plays the character well as annoying posh girl and makes you feel sorry for Hamish who has to put up with her in the relationship.
Claire Price is the most believable character as Barbara, looking and sounding like the prudish ex-school-prefect she is portraying. Edward Bennett is the perfect middle man between the two screeching girls, bringing well needed masculinity and charm to the play. Simon Gilbert plays the comedic character of Gilbert in a way that reminds me of Selsdon Mowbray in Noises Off, with comedy one liners delivered hilariously.
The set design was intriguing. The play centres around one woman’s flat and those directly above and below it. However only the bottom half of the upstairs flat was visible and only the top half of the bottom flat. I kept thinking it would all become clear why this was done but I’m still confused now as to why I was watching just Natalie Imbruglia’s legs for half the performance.
Things We Do For Love is an enjoyable show that perhaps unintentionally gives the impression that absue is acceptable in a relationship (so long as it comes from a place of love).
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Things We Do For Love is playing at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley until Saturday 14 June 2014. Click here for tickets.