ALBANY — If you were to put six of the seven characters in Alan Ayckbourn’s play “Private Fears in Public Places” in the same room, they’d no doubt be surprised to find each other there. How do you know her? Where did you meet him?
It is, of course, like the concept of six degrees of separation, wherein everyone is connected to everyone else in the world by only six contacts.
Confetti Stage is doing a good job of exploring Acykbourn’s lengthy dramedy about a septet of Londoners (though as director John A. Nickles notes, the universal themes preclude the necessity to work an accent) in varying stages of stuck-ness.
Arthur (George Filieau) is an old man confined to his bed, but he’s got a big yap, which paralyzes his grown son, Ambrose (Joseph Plock).
Ambrose is a hotel barman/confidant to Dan (Stephen Henel), boozy, jobless, and dead-ended in a romantic relationship with Nicola (Laura Darling), who has been searching with her real estate agent, Stewart (Sean T. Baldwin), for a new apartment.
Stewart lives with his sister, Imogen (Marissa Reimer), a young woman on the lookout for love, and he works with Charlotte (Colleen Lovett), who happens to moonlight as a caregiver for Arthur.
And the circle only closes more tightly during the course of the evening.
Far be it from me to suggest how Acykburn might have trimmed, if trimming indeed is what I thought might be a way to keep our interest sparked. The production itself is successful in smoothly transitioning from one brief scene to the next, through excellent lighting design by Nicolas Nealon and execution by Tricia Stuto; and apt sound effects by Henel, Nickles, and Baldwin, expertly operated by Ryan Cerone. The actors enter and exit promptly, so they’re doing all they can to keep the momentum going.
And it’s these fine performers, under Nickles’ astute direction, who make us care about these slightly woebegone, 21st century drifters. Even hidden behind a curtain and a shadow of his former self, Filieau’s Arthur is a bigger pill than the ones he takes. Darling etches a sharp portrait of a woman fluctuating between need and self-respect: poignant.
In a touching monologue, Plock makes Ambrose somebody we root for. Life seems to be passing him by, at least until play’s end in an amusing development. Baldwin’s slightly hapless Stewart nevertheless reveals some pluck: He gets up every day and tries again, ironically extolling the virtues of apartment home life while skulking around his own shared space.
Lovett once again delivers a nuanced performance, this time as a fragile woman torn between heavenly aspirations and damning desires. Finally, Reimer (she of the delightful laugh) and Henel offer up the evening’s most charming and hopeful scene as two would-be paramours — eager, self-deprecating, cautious, and all in a sweetly alcoholic daze. Nice work.
The set spills out from the stage onto the floor, so most of the action is in our laps. Effective.
It’s an offbeat theatrical evening, brought to you by a troupe that likes it that way.
‘Private Fears in Public Places’
WHERE: Confetti Stage, 67 Corning Place, Albany
WHEN: Through Feb. 18
HOW MUCH: $15
MORE INFO: 518.460.1167, or confettistage.org