Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Private Fears in Public Places"

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note: entire contents copyright 2010 by Larry Stark

"Private Fears in Public Places"

by Alan Ayckbourn
Directed by David J. Miller

Scenic by David J. Miller
Lighting Design by Chris Fournier
Costume Design by Fabian Aguilar
Sound Design Walter Eduardo
Dialect Coach Bryn Jameson
Voiceovers by Rick Park, Becca A. Lewis
Production Stage Manager Deirdre Benson

Stewart..........Robert Bonotto
Imogen............Shelley Brown
Dan.....Michael Steven Costello
Charlotte........Becca A. Lewis
Ambrose..............Bill Salem

As a prolific playwright, Alan Ayckbourn has been best known for his clever theatrical games. Two different families for instance, gave dinner-parties for the same couple at the same table in the same set; the "Communicating Doors" whirled philandering couples not into the next room but five then ten years into their futures. And in "Private Fears in Public Places" a bar with another table serves in addition as two homes and an office for three intertwining couples. In this case, however, it's not the set nor the game that takes centerstage, but the powerfully human emotions of people colliding as they come to life crises. For this carefully faceted gem, Zeitgeist's director David J. Miller has brought exquisite performances from a cast working comfortably and familiarly together.

Christine Power and Michael Steven Costello play a pair of long-time lovers looking for a three-bedroom apartment to share. She works, he drinks. Robert Bonotto plays their politely frustrated estate-agent, whose young secretary (Becca A. Lewis) plies him with video-tapes of her favorite program, and possibly encouraging smiles. She moonlights as nanny for an off-stage, abusively cantankerous Old Age Pensioner, the father of the bar-tender (Bill Salem) often asked advice by that malingering drinker from this paragraph's first sentence. The estate-agent lives with his sister (Shelley Brown), who meets the drinker through a dating-column, and the secretary is ambiguously religious and believes that providing people temptations is a way to help them resist and thus save their souls. What's hard to explain in such a quick description is slowly, subtly, smoothly revealed in this warm, engrossing little play --- with several surprises no reviewer should reveal.

There is nothing more to add, except that this is ultimately an incredibly "Hug-able" play, with a cast who, at every moment, is achingly, humanly real. You'll have to see it for yourselves to believe me.

( a k a larry stark )

"Private Fears in Public Places" (12 February - 6 March)
Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, BOSTON, MA

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