Playwright Grant Woods, a man accomplished in multiple ways, came to a fork in the road like Robert Frost. As an Occidental College undergrad he gave himself a choice of careers—law or writing. As a lawyer, he was successful and moved into politics as Arizona’s Attorney General from 1991-1999, served as Chief-of-Staff to Senator John McCain, and delivered the first eulogy at McCain’s funeral. He also hosted radio talk shows at KTAR and KFYI in Phoenix. Ten years ago he picked up his pen and began to write, producing a crime thriller and two plays.
The Things We Do, now running as a visiting production at Odyssey Theatre, starts out as a four-character, middle-aged sex comedy. Bill (handsome, buff Blake Boyd) gets snagged by Sara (svelte, sexy Marlene Galan) as he passes through a bar on his way out. An aggressive, experienced sex kitten, Marlene uses the ploy of mistaken identity to get him to sit down and schmooze with suggestive banter, eventually taking him home and into her bed for some enthusiastic, over-the-top love making. With some reluctance, after all he has a wife, Alice (lithe, lovely Liesel Kopp), at home in their empty nest, he starts a dangerous secret affair.
Sara is in a longtime, childless marriage with her real estate broker husband, Ted (excellent Stephen Rockwell in an understated performance), a smooth, honest, gentle man. Alice, a yoga instructor with children gone and the bonds of marriage loosened, senses that she and her husband are diverging.
The Things We Do is a series of short scenes, with each character spotlighted to deliver soliloquys to the audience revealing their innermost thoughts. The bang-up sex scene and a hairbreadth escape when Sara’s husband comes home, kicks the play in to a high gear that the subsequent scenes cannot sustain. The excellent cast does the best they can, but, as the end of the play nears, the action slows down into inevitability and inertia.
Directed by Elina de Santos, the production is enhanced by a flexible set by designer Stephanie Kerley Schwartz (with a fluid lighting design by Brian Gale), which includes a clever roll-out bed and some simple, furnishings easily moved around by the actors. The sound design by Christopher Moscatiello features an excellent selection of songs that support the action. Kate Bergh’s costumes are ideal, reinforcing character, place and action. Tempest Rockbell manages the stage.
Presented by Never Dark Productions and produced by Susan Segal and executive producer Seth Sulka, The Things We Do runs through May 12 at Odyssey Theatre 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd. in Los Angeles.