Interview: The Press (26 April 1997)

This interview was published in the Yorkshire Evening Press on 26 April 1997.

House Of Love

by Charles Hutchinson

Sir Alan Ayckbourn's 52nd play,
Things We Do For Love, opens wounds at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, from this weekend.

Barbara's house - converted into three flats - is the emotional playground for Ayckbourn's new comic look at the effects of passion, on those involved and on those around them.

Barbara (Joanna Van Gyseghem) lives in the middle flat; lonely Gilbert (Barry McCarthy), who is secretly smitten with her, lives downstairs, and the top flat is empty. So it should be ideal for Barbara's oldest schoolfriend, Nikki (Sally Giles), and her new fiance, Hamish (Cameron Stewart), as they need somewhere to stay while they work on their new house.

Unfortunately, Hamish and Barbara take an almost instant dislike to each other, but could this animosity conceal some other deeper feeling.

"Love is a subject that's never far away from our thoughts," said Sir Alan. "This play has come from my observation that we often save the best of ourselves, but also the worst of ourselves for the ones we fall in love with. For every happy couple coming together, there is often a jilted lover in the background; some betrayed husband or wife who has lost out."

At the core of
Things We Do For Love is Barbara, a woman who has survived to the age of 40 without love by burying herself in her career.

"She has her friends, and most important of all, she has her house, and when you're single you can come home knowing you won't find that children have destroyed the rooms," said Sir Alan. "So there she is with her tidy existence, until love rushes up on her at 40 - and while you may think love will be courteous, it often turns out to be quite bruising. There is that feeling of love being a counter-force as well as a positive force, and that's what makes this a comic piece - one of my lighter pieces, you could say."

Ayckbourn's Scarborough shows are traditionally associated with performances in-the-round, but for only the second time, he is premiering a new work on an 'end-stage' (in layman's terms, a long, face-on stage).

"This is the first one since
A Small Family Business in 1987, and I've written it deliberately with the McCarthy shape in mind," said Sir Alan. "The set has three views of the three flats, and on the middle floor you can see all the people involved. This design gives you the opportunity for edited views - and for some steamy love scenes."

Steamy love scenes?

"Yes, there's quite a lot of sex in this play, but not enough to turn your aunty away. It's more in the mind, which is the best place for it, I think."

Website Notes:
[1] This isn't accurate as Things We Do For Love is considered Alan Ayckbourn's fourth play written with end-stage performance in mind. The previous plays are Bedroom Farce, A Small Family Business and Haunting Julia.
[2] The McCarthy is the second performance space in the Stephen Joseph Theatre, a 165 seat end-stage space.

Copyright: Charles Hutchinson. This edited transcription and the end-notes have been compiled and researched by Simon Murgatroyd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.