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Private Eyes

by Steven Dietz

A few years ago I worked on another of Dietz's plays - God's Country and I am amazed that this is the same playwright. The two plays could not be more different in style, tone, subject matter - everything! Both plays are wonderful and I so enjoyed reading Private Eyes. It reminds me a lot of Stoppard's The Real Thing. It faces similar issues - infidelity, the theatre, what is reality?, art, etc. in a very imaginative way.

I would say this is Matthew's story. It focuses on the affair between his wife Lisa and their director Adrian.  We don't quite realize what reality is until a few scenes in because Matthew and Lisa are cast in a play directed by Adrian and some of the scenes are scenes in the play and some are real life. Then we discover that everything is being told to Frank, Matthew's therapist and that sometimes Matthew exaggerates the truth. So, in fact, what we're shown might not be the whole truth (or nothing but the truth). Frank is full of 'wise saws and modern instances' such as his response to the supposed affair:
Odd. How brutal things begin so sweetly. How our greatest regrets take root, at first, as hope.
Frank, in fact, has both Matthew and Lisa as clients, which may be a conflict of interest, but one gets the sense that he actually knows better than anyone (including us, the audience) what is going on in this love triangle. Frank speaks a good amount of dialogue to the audience, as narration:
A delicious part of living in the world is the number of lives we brush past but never enter.
I'm not sure Frank does much to help Matthew or Lisa. In fact, the only person who seems to make the characters speak truth is Adrian's wife, Cory. She has followed her husband across the ocean to catch his infidelity and when she meets Matthew she says:
It's odd. We think our lives will be changed in front of us - that we'll be present when it happens. But, we never are. Our lives are changed in distant rooms. Without our knowledge or consent.
She eventually confronts the three lovers and manages to have an unfortunate conversation in a rather adult manner. Until she pulls a gun on Adrian. That's where things get crazy.

To sum up this play in one line, I have to pass the hat to Frank. As Lisa is contemplating the right time to tell Matthew about Adrian, Frank responds:
The perfect time to hurt someone never comes.
And that's the truth. I leave you with a quote from Mr. Dietz, himself.
A play about lies must be a comedy, because only laughter can make us recognize truths we're not fond of. Only laughter is generous enough to hear us out, to listen to our foibles and our familiar debacles ... and let us think that next time, next time, it will be different.                                                                                                                                 -Steven Dietz 
Monday Play-a-day: An Error of the Moon by Luigi Creatore

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