Before the play even started it was clear that Private Eyes would be very different from the outrageous action of Noises Off or the musicality of The King and I. The study guide promised themes of deception, infidelity and relationships while the advertisements warned that it “is intended for mature audiences over age 13.”
I was joined by an energetic audience of mostly freshman who took their seats in Fulks Theatre on Wednesday night for ACU Theatre’s Cornerstone Production. The modular city scape on stage and the jazzy soundtrack emanating from the speakers set the scene for the intriguing story of love and lies that was about to begin.
It was mere minutes into the first act that the audience is posed with questions regarding love, truth, vanity and reality.
“You don’t just come out and tell someone the truth,” exclaimed Adrian a director engaged in an extramarital affair with his actress (played by Dom Huynh, senior theatre major major from Beaverton, Ore.). “Not when you’ve gotten away with it.”
It’s mature and reflective themes were paired with very adult bits of sexuality that are quite unordinary for an ACU production. However, without it, the secret romance and workplace infidelity would not have felt nearly as real or believable.
Aside from it many serious moments, Private Eyes also brought a helpful dose of humor. Quick witted verbal and situational humor dotted the two hour performance.
The cast portrayed an interwinding, non-linear tale of deceit with expertise. Nick Palmieri, senior theatre major from Amarillo, and Melanie Godsey, junior theatre major from Highland Village, were forced to play a variety of roles as their characters were also acting a play (in which Godsey’s character was also auditioning for a role).
The audience was left not knowing what to believe as they were often told what they had just seen was not reality, but instead part of a play or daydream. This was most noticeable when what the audience thought was a simple lunch turned into a daydream of revenge and dancing on tables.
As much as I would like to see future department productions step away from the gimmicky play-within-a-play story line that was also so much a part of Noises Off, the cast and production crew managed to create a performance that was funny, thought-provoking and in all aspects very different from anything previously seen on ACU’s stage.
See the final performances this Friday at 7 p.m. as well as Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. After each performance there will be a talkback giving audience members a chance to discuss the play with its cast, crew and directors. Tickets can be purchased online, in person or by calling the ACU Theatre Box Office at 325-674-ARTS (2787).