Private Fears in Public Places

  • Date:
    June 1, 2005
    Review by:
    Polly Wittenberg

    Review by Polly Wittenberg

    Written by: Alan Ayckbourn
    Directed by: Alan Ayckbourn
    Cast: Melanie Gutteridge, Paul Kemp, Adrian McLoughlin, Alexandra Mathie, Sarah Moyle and Paul Thornley.
    Synopsis: Six people with six very separate lives - yet all strangely linked by circumstance. Does Nicola still love Dan? Can Stewart be on the verge of an office romance? Will Imogen ever find true love? Does Ambrose have a secret life? And what on earth is Charlotte up to? A tale of the misheard, the unspoken and the sadly misunderstood.

    Polly Wittenberg's Review.

    If you really want to know what contemporary blokes and babes are thinking about, you need go no farther than the 59E59 Theater where Alan Ayckbourn�s Private Fears in Public Places is playing for the next few weeks as part of the Brits Off Broadway 2005 series. It�s kind of a British working class version of Sex, Lies and Videotape.

    As usual with the prolific Ayckbourn�s plays, the structure of the work is as interesting as its content. Here, in a two-hour intermissionless show, there are six characters�a young career woman (Melanie Gutteridge), her unemployed fianc� (Paul Thornley), a real estate broker (Paul Kemp), his assistant (Alexandra Mathie), his sister (Sarah Moyle) and a bartender (Adrian McLoughlin). As expertly acted by a cast well-steeped in an understated comic style and directed by Ayckbourn himself, their interlocking stories are revealed in a succession of more than 50 separate scenes�some consisting of several minutes of dialogue and others consisting of no more than a flash. The whole thing is a mesmerizing puzzle and you never know what is going to happen next. And also as usual, Ayckbourn provides a truly realistic ending.

    Ayckbourn has written nearly 70 plays. After years of theatre going in London and New York and assiduous watching of Masterpiece Theatre, I�ve seen about a dozen of them. They are almost always clever, witty and truly revealing of the way we live now. Only a very few of them have ever been done on Broadway. The Manhattan Theater Club is set to revive one of the most famous, Absurd Person Singular, next season. But don�t miss this opportunity to see another prime example of his work.

    Polly Wittenberg