Things We Do For Love: London Premiere Reviews

Things We Do For Love opened in the West End in 1998. This page presents extracts from some of the major reviews of the London premiere of the play.

Country Life (by Michael Billington)
"[
Things We Do For Love] is, even by his [Ayckbourn's] own high standards, an exceptional work: an uncompromising, and bitterly funny, exploration of the pain and humiliation that accompanies the explosion of true love."

Daily Express
"Ayckbourn's plays have in the past been extraordinarily bleak. This is cosier fare. Still there is enough dark laughter to satisfy hard-core fans."

Daily Mail (by Michael Coveney)
"Ayckbourn is nearer his best in this play than he has been for some time. But I still worry about too many fundamental impossibilities in the situation."

Daily Telegraph (by Charles Spencer)
"It is hard to think of many plays by Ayckbourn or anyone else, that are so consistently laugh out-loud funny while also offering such harrowing glimpses of pain..... No dramatist is better than Ayckbourn at capturing such cruel contradictions in human feelings; they lie at the heart of this disconcerting comedy, which he directs with his usual panache."

Evening Standard (by Nicholas de Jongh)
"The comedy does work powerfully where it reveals lust's devastations... Lust, Ayckbourn shows, is a dangerous laughing matter."

Financial Times (by Alastair Macaulay)
'The man [Ayckbourn] is a master craftsman: a virtuoso juggler of a play's components; a disconcerting chef of its comic and serious ingredients; an impish sociological satirist; a shrewd psychologist; a disturbing cultivator of the mustard seed of evil in the seemingly safe and barren domestic hearth; a generous diagnostician of the unliberated modern women; and more."

The Guardian (by Michael Billington)
"The extraordinary thing is that Ayckbourn, in his 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... but Ayckbourn's precious gift is for making his points through laughter and action.... This memorably bruising comedy is a
Private Lives for the nineties."

International Herald Tribune (by Aleks Sierz)
"Unusually for West End populist drama, it does treat its audience as adults. Written with economy and imaginatively staged, it feels like uncomfortable eavesdropping in the disturbing power of lust."

Mail on Sunday (by Georgina Brown)
"Lust - its farcically comic and its potentially tragic effects - is Ayckbourn's theme here, and, despite the pain that trembles beneath the surface of the play, he seems determined to wrap it up as a comedy and suggest that lust and love can be the same thing. I'm not entirely convinced. The best relationships need both, which is a more complicated subject and a different play, but it's one which could never be as gloriously entertaining as this."

Metro (by Benedict Nightingale)
"Perhaps the best play he [Ayckbourn] has written in the nineties."

News Of The World (by Bill Hagerty)
"Alan Ayckbourn's brilliant new play - having written more than fifty, he's back at the top of his considerable form.... A black romantic comedy that will jar both your funny bone and your heart!"

New York Times
"[Ayckbourn] displays his old talent of acknowledging his characters' pain as well as their entertaining absurdities. Ayckbourn the shrewd and funny annal-ist of everyday awfulness, is back with us."

The Observer (by Susannah Clapp)
"He [Ayckbourn] manages to make humour from a series of ugly, dire and painful events... Thos play is a near perfect piece of stage-machinery."

The Spectator (by Sheridan Morley)
"Ayckbourn is way back to the top of his form:
Things We Do For Love, his 52nd* play in 40 years, is a wondrous mix of domestic comedy and sexual tragedy, the two empires of which he has always been the master contemporary playwright. Nobody can turn tears into laughter faster, and by the same token, no other dramatist freezes the grin on your face quite so effectively within seconds.... A raw, painful and uproarious evening."

The Stage (by Peter Hepple)
"Ayckbourn's skill is such that he can make events which on the surface are tragic into hilarious comedy, with no small amount of satire at the expense of the four participants. It is an old trick as far as Ayckbourn is concerned but he manages to pull it off time and time again, and never better than on this occasion, as we both laugh and cry."

Sunday Telegraph (by John Gross)
"The play is enormously enjoyable. The jokes work, the details divert.... [we can] relish the skill with which Ayckbourn lays the ground for it. If the characters are not so much developed as put through their paces, they are in the hands of a superlative ringmaster."

Sunday Times (by John Peter)
"It comes at you with a sense of new-minted inspiration, and of wit and comedy, which is both bruising and healing.... The ending is shocking, hilarious and moderately hopefully. Like all comedies of the first rank, this play has a healing effect because it wounds you first. This is the thrilling embarrassment and the benevolent cruelty of Ayckbourn's art, and these are the things we do for love."

The Times (by Benedict Nightingale)
"It is sharp and gorgeously funny."

Variety (by Matt Wolf)
"[This] finds a prolific dramatist in often blistering funny form."

*
Things We Do For Love is Alan Ayckbourn's 51st full length play.

All reviews are copyright of the respective publication.

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