The Private Ear and The Public Eye

Compelling Acting in First-Rate Bill

Not since Harold Pinter's The Caretaker have I seen such compelling acting and fascinating theatre as Peter Shaffer's double-bill. The Private Ear and The Public Eye, which had Monday night's Connaught audience demanding more and more curtain calls.

Like The Caretaker there are only three characters in each play, but while completely different in style, both pieces present a moving combination of comedy, pathos and drama that casts a spell over the audience.

The perfection of the acting of Pamela Charles and Alan Howard who appear in both plays and that of Peter Bourne and Michael Lees who respectively play the third character will long remain in my memory.

Without a doubt this is producer Michael Finlayson's finest achievement since he took over as director of the Connaught.

To base a play on what happens when a very ordinary young man brings a very ordinary girl home to supper, and his glib pal steals the picture with his slick patter, sounds a bit of a thin plot, but written by Shaffer and played by Pamela Charles, Alan Howard and Peter Bourne, it becomes a brilliant human cameo.

To watch the suspicious, scared Doreen blossom out under the suave persuasion of a few drinks, to see the pal, Ted, dazzle the girl with his phoney, high faluting cavortings, and the pathetically silent figure of Bob, as he finds himself outclassed all along the line, is a theatrical experience.

There is a terrific finale played out by Peter Bourne as Bob.

In The Public Eye Michael Lees plays the demanding role of Charles Sidley, a tormented husband who believes his young and beautiful wife to have "no more conception of sex fidelity than that chair."

While he is old-fashioned, his wife has led a peculiar life among the arty-crafty crowd and it is not until after a year that he realises he has virtually married a child.

As her affections towards him cool off to somewhere below zero, he engages a private detective to find out whether there is another man in her life and, of course, whether she is being unfaithful.

Mr. Lees makes a meal of the tense, overwrought husband part which he plays with every trick in the book.

ttractively attired in black jeans, a flaming red jacket and large black straw hat, Pamela Charles gives a superb performance as the naughty wife, Belinda, a tantalising witch of a youngster with a baby voice and, it would seem, a baby mind to match.

Alan Howard plays the private detective with an amusing touch of effeminacy as he is manhandled by the irate husband in a violent demand for news of his wife's philandering.

Played against the two realistic sets by Kenneth Turner, The Private Ear and The Public Eye, which run until next Wednesday, carry a double-barrelled impact that no theatregoer can afford to miss.

Denis Raleigh

The Worthing Gazette, 30.10.1963.

In rehearsal for The Public Eye! A Worthing Gazette Interview.

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