The Things We Do

Michael Van Duzer Reviews - Theater

It’s not every play that can claim to be written by a state’s Attorney General. Grant Woods served Arizona in that position for most of the 1990s. So, it is probably to be expected that his play, The Things We Do, opens with Bill (Blake Boyd) protesting his innocence. Though we quickly discover he is anything but.

Bill is married to Alice (Liesel Kopp), but that doesn’t stop him from being picked up in a bar by sexy troublemaker, Sara (Marlene Galan). Sara is also married. Her husband Ted (Stephen Rockwell) almost walks in on Bill and Sara in flagrante. But the first of many lies these characters will tell will misdirect Ted enough to welcome his wife’s lover into his life.

What looks fated to be a one-night stand rather inexplicably becomes an ongoing affair. Even more baffling is a plan devised by the adulterous lovers to bring their respective spouses together. Woods’ script aims to be an adult examination of fidelity and boredom in long-term relationships, loneliness in marriage, empty nest syndrome, and, of course, betrayal.

Unfortunately, the play seems more concerned with a series of tepid jokes than truly delving into the relationships. Woods has constructed his play around a series of monologues. These monologues offer little character development, and the actions described in them would be more dramatically effective if they were integrated into the play’s action.

The actors throw themselves into their roles with commendable enthusiasm. But they can only do so much with the thin characters and overly familiar material. Kopp and Rockwell come off best. Not only because, as the cheated upon half of the couples, they are more sympathetic, but because they are written to be underplayed. Galan and Boyd have little choice but to play their self-absorbed characters at full throttle.

Director Elina de Santos keeps the pacing brisk and the action comprehensible, while Stephanie Kerley Schwartz’s elegantly spare set design cleverly summons all the locations the script demands.

Woods remains consistent as the ending of The Things We Do feels as contrived and unsatisfying as the rest of the play.

Odyssey Theatre   April 6 – May 12, 2019