BWW Reviews: 2Cents Theatre Group Presents PRIVATE EYES, a Play About Deception and Broken Trust

2Cents Theatre Group is presenting Private Eyes by Steven Dietz, directed by Shaunessy Quinn, running in repertory with Rent, directed by Kristen Boulé, at the Hudson Theatre Mainstage in Hollywood through June 30. Producers for 2Cents Theatre Group are Kristen Boulé, Cody Lyman, Kate Bowman, Tiffany Roberts, and Mike Abramson, with lighting design by Donny Jackson, and costume design by Abbey Hocker.

Private Eyes opened on May 30, and I was curious to see how the abstract set designed by Anderson William from pipes and wood planks would work for this show. Well directed with a skillful hand and mindful eye, the various multi-level playing areas on the set were used to great effect to represent the many scenes including a casting director's office, restaurant, a bedroom, and a psychiatrist's office.

Private Eyes is a play about deception and broken trust, labeled by the author as a "comedy of suspicion," as the story is told in multiple layers and the audience is repeatedly tricked to believe that the current situation is real as nothing is ever quite what it seems. Although each layer by itself is deceptively plausible, the play takes several turns that make events in previous layers, and sometimes even the overall story, impossible. I must admit I was confused at times, but eventually laughed at my own folly for thinking the scene I had been watching was based on any sort of reality.

The story involves a play within the play about adultery with a real life affair between the British theatre director, Adrian (sexy Diego Garcia, who opened the play on guitar with a song about how life tears you apart) and Lisa (Tiffany Roberts), the lead in his play, carried out before the eyes of her husband Matthew (Philip Asta), the play's other actor. Roberts and Asta are a real-life couple and their easy familiarity added much realism in their scenes. There was a point where a sideways glance between the two spoke more than any words could have said in that moment.

But perhaps the affair is part of the play being rehearsed. Or perhaps Matthew has imagined all of it simply to have something to report to his therapist Frank (Theresa Tilly). I commend the gender-bending casting of Tilly in the role, a move which played into the deceptive layers of the show. And Asta really worked wonders in his scenes with Frank, allowing us to see the tortured mind attempting to deal with his wife's adultery.

And, finally, there is Cory (Alejandra Cejudo)-the mysterious woman who seems to shadow the others and appears to bring the story to its surprising conclusion. Cejudo amazed many in the audience when she revealed herself playing another character. What a transformation a wig and a different accent can make when utilized by an actress with great skill.

The incredibly fast-paced 90 minutes (without intermission) kept the action moving. But sometimes it seemed lines were said too quickly without much feeling or understanding of what was being said. But I did manage to catch a few that I think tell a lot about Steven Dietz's outlook on life and the meaning of his play: Life is not what we think, it's what we do. The perfect time to tell someone never comes. Lie to everyone but me. The only way to hurt someone is to surprise them. Be careful when you say a woman is trouble because most men will take it as a dare.

Private Eyes plays Thursday at 8pm and Sunday at 2pm through June 30. General admission tickets are $20, with student and senior tickets available for $15 with valid ID. To purchase tickets call (323) 960-4410 or online at The Hudson Theatre is located at 6539 Santa Monica Blvd. on Theatre Row in Hollywood. And check out the many other productions going on in the area during the Hollywood Fringe Festival during June and catch another great show on the same day!

Production photos by ZACKRY "NINJA" BARCLIFT

Tiffany Roberts, Philip Asta

Alejandra Cejudo, Philip Asta

Diego Garcia, Philip Asta

Philip Asta, Tiffany Roberts

Philip Asta, Theresa Tilly, Tiffany Roberts

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From This Author Shari Barrett