Westacre Theatre presents an extraordinary production of Alan Ayckbourn’s Private Fears in Public Places which is a must-see, says reviewer
It’s a bittersweet symphony, that’s life.
These lyrics from a song by The Verve summed up brilliantly the play Private Fears in Public Places presented at Westacre Theatre.
Written by Alan Ayckbourn this production was directed by Matt Grist where six people with six separate lives are all linked by circumstance.
The talented cast are in character throughout the production which is set in London and the action takes place across various locations – a hotel bar, estate agent’s office, Nicola’s flat, Imogen’s flat, Ambrose’s kitchen and a café.
I was trying to guess the year it was set in and came up with 1997 based on the music used – The Verve released Bittersweet Symphony in that year.
Ayckbourn actually wrote the play in 2004 and I really enjoyed the music soundtrack that accompanies the character’s journeys as they interact with each other.
Having seen a number of productions at the riverside award-winning venue this play has been the best one for me and an audience member described it as ‘very clever.’
There is a core group of actors – some amateur – who consistently deliver a professional performance showing versatility, commitment, talent and charisma each time.
Rosie Hastings who portrayed Nicola is a good example of how treading the boards for a theatre such as Westacre will stand her in good stead – as a bursary student in the summer she shone in a variety of productions – I have said before she is one to watch in the future.
Matt Grist, director and playing the part of Stewart is as usual a master of comic timing and pathos – bringing a tragi-com dimension to his character.
Karen Bates as Charlotte brought spectacular moments to her performance – sassy and hilarious – just brilliant.
Some great comedy business between Tamsin Wheeler as Imogen and Jake Champion as Dan/Richard continues Tamsin’s consistently good performances and equally a strong portrayal from Jake Champion whose character has a passing reference to the 2003 Iraq war.
Kudos goes to David Connor as the barman Ambrose living with his difficult father Arthur who we never meet and only hear offstage – until the curtain call when it is revealed that actor Clive Hadfield had played the cantankerous man – much to the delight and applause of the audience.
From the start this production is strong – with spotlights on each character revealing exactly who they are – we know them straight away – and this is the skill of those actors on the stage.
The action cuts from scene to scene with a cinematic effect and the production is expertly created and the characters’ lives build as it goes on – some of the most powerful moments are unspoken.
The layering of the show – both in characterisation and set – sees an intertwining of ordinary lives in an extraordinary production.
It is a must-see – I would go again!
The run continues on October 26 and 27 at 7.30pm, and on October 28 at 3pm and 7.30pm.
Tickets are £16 and £10.