Comedy invokes truth

Elise Barnett, Washburn Review

The parking lot and all the ambient spaces surrounding the rough brick building were nearly all filled with cars when my sister, and I arrived at Warehouse 414 for the opening night of “Private Eyes,” written by Steven Dietz. We purchased our tickets and watched as the final two were sold before taking our seats. The show was officially sold out and the room buzzed with the nervous excitement of people about to see something new, something fresh and something different.

The room was set so that in order to reach the expanse of chairs set up for the audience one had to cross through the set of the play. It was simple. A messy desk and chair was set near the door. A vacant, round table was set near the middle of the stage. The walls were lined with artwork and images accentuating the gallery-turned-theater affect of the space.

“The holder of an Ad Astra Theatre Ensemble, Inc. ticket voluntarily assumes all risk and danger of personal injury (including death) and all hazards arising from or related in any way to the event.”

I read off the back of my ticket as we waited for the lights to dim and the show to start.

“The play itself has been called a ‘comedy of suspicion’ and it does indeed have many twists and turns. Not only keeping the audience on their toes, but also the actors,” said Craig Fisher in his director’s note to the audience. “There is a thin line between what’s real and what isn’t in the world of this play and simply being able to discern between the two might mean the difference between love and loss.”

It didn’t take long for the play to get started in a twisted direction. The lights rise and a scene begins. A stern Matthew, played by Dané Shobe, is countered by a spirited Lisa, played by Tess Wilson. The scene unfolds, the characters banter and argue and role play when all of a sudden a voice speaks from somewhere behind the audience right as the two characters are about to enact a kiss. “Cut!” The voice shouts and Matthew and Lisa separate as the character of Adrian, played by Travis Lamb, joins the stage revealing the play within the play. The rest of the scenes carry on with similarly shocking twists revealing affairs, dark desires and therapy.

Though the play is supposedly a comedy, the issues of truth, honestly and reality proved to be far much more dramatic than I had expected. The words were remarkably well written, almost so well written that at times they were a little unbelievable, but in the end that added to the play thematically, as did the play’s use of foreshadowing and its circular nature.

The play challenged the audience to decide what truth is with the ultimate revelation that truth is what you want it to be. Truth is individual. Truth is perception and though one can find solace in it, one can also find disappointment.