Things We Do For Love | State Theatre Company of South AustraliaLeft - Elena Carapetis, Andrew Tighe and Caroline Mignone. Cover - Caroline Mignone and Andrew Tighe. Photos - Shane Reid.

With humour and perceptiveness Alan Ayckbourn almost inevitably turns his penetrating microscope on human passion, pathos and pain in his plays. Things We Do For Love is no exception, and the humour is well to the fore. This production directed by Michael Hill neatly brings out the poignancy and pathos in the script, as well as the absurdity of thoughtless groin-driven lust, with wit and appeal, how ever improbable some parts may seem.

Barbara (Caroline Mignone) is a self satisfied, middle aged, committed spinster, with a place for everything and everything in its place, until old school friend Nikki (Elena Carpetis) and her fiancé Hamish (Andrew Tighe) move in to the flat upstairs, after which things become thoroughly topsy turvy. Meanwhile plodding, garrulous and eager-to-please Gilbert (Brendan Rock) lives in the basement flat below, harbouring a couple of dark secrets which further rock the boat.

The imaginative, cardboard cut-out type set (by Dean Hills) echoes the rather cardboard cut-out life and interactions played out within it. Apart from a possible link with the collapse of relationships (and shelves) it was hard to see the purpose or relevance of a tsunami-inspired piece of house all akimbo on one side of the set. However, to show all of the central flat, and the bottom of the top one, and the top of the bottom one is a clever device. I am still not sure why the front door flew in and out, apparently at random, somewhat disconcertingly.

In the hands of these four talented actors, relationships are entangled, untangled and destroyed with plenty of laughs as the scenario descends into farce. All four remain convincing and consistent throughout, even negotiating some of the unlikely twists handed to them by the script.

A nice contrast is drawn between the prickly initial repartee between Barbara and Hamish (whose mutual distain at first meeting turns to rampant passion) and the innocent fluffy exuberance of Nikki, finely and very naturally portrayed by Carpetis. The other contrast is with Brendan Rock’s Gilbert – stolid and, on the face of it, uncomplicated, until we learn more.

All in all, this is a thoroughly enjoyable performance, excellently acted, and raising a number of questions about what it is – or could be - that we do for love – or is it just for lust?

State Theatre Company of South Australia presents
by Alan Ayckbourn

Directed by Michael Hill

Venue: Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre
Dates: 25 September – 17 October 2009
Tickets: $45.00 / $40.00

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