Review of The Public Eye & Ludlow Fair
Marin Onstage
For tickets / schedule :
Belrose Theatre, San Rafael

RUN: May 26 – June 10, 2017
RATING: 3 of 5 stars

(May 26, 2017)

Photo by Gary Gonser

The Public Eye
By Peter Shaffer
Directed by Billie Cox

Dive into 1960s London with this classic play examining the challenges of youthful enthusiasm dimming into middle aged stodgy intellect that eschews imagination. Charles Sidley, played with indignant stuffiness by Mitchell Field, has become convinced that his wife’s absences indicate that she is having an affair. Eccentric private detective Julian Cristoforou (Ellen Brooks), with a penchant for eating sweets when nervous, is on the case, in between hunting down chocolate macaroons. This one act play feels full length, and could have carried the evening on its own.

Brimming with curiosity and adventure, Emily Ludlow as the wife, Belinda Sedley, captures the stage with her confidence and innocent amusement at small discoveries, such as enraptured praise for Ingmar Bergman films. Ellen Brooks’ outlandish detective is a quintessential 1960s English character, complete with raincoat and kooky flower, designed by Nancy Bodan-Gonser. Direction from Billie Cox layers comedy under each scene, creating a delightful period piece with an agreeable denouement that warms the heart.

Photo by Gary Gonser

Ludlow Fair
By Lanford Wilson
Directed by Renee Mandel-Sher

In contrast to the quirky and sentimental The Private Eye, this one act is more of an experiment in form than a completed work. It leans heavily on rambling monologues from roommates who are forced into intimate discussions based entirely on their proximity to each other. There are glimmers of depth toward the end, when Agnes admits that she wanted to have children—an opportunity that has slipped by and become merely a dream. Hande Gokbas muses with quiet sorrow, clutching tiny dolls that are all she has, tears misting her expressive eyes.

Keara Reardon’s Rachel is erratic and emotional over a recent breakup—energetic in embracing the role, although the overall concept flounders. The play feels like the newsreels that used to be added onto feature films—more of an educational piece that is part of the experience, but does not hold its own.

One Acts with Heart lives up to its name, offering two unique plays that are enjoyable and well directed. If you are fond of vintage BBC shows, The Public Eye will be a treat, and the Belrose Theater is a comfortable environment to spend the evening.