Sunday, 9 October 2005

Private Eye by IRAA Theatre, Oct 9, 2005

Private Eye
By Renato Cuocolo & Roberta Bossetti, IRAA Theatre
Melbourne Festival
 Hyatt Hotel, Melbourne,
Performances every 15 minutes, Oct 7 to 22, 2005

Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Oct 9, 2005

If you are booked to see Private Eye, stop reading now! It will spoil the experience.

Renato Cuocolo and Roberta Bossetti destroy the boundaries between actor and audience. The viewer becomes co-performer in this challenging, intensely intimate performance.

Private Eye, inspired by Film Noir and detective novels, is constructed around the notion of the watcher and the watched.  This is an accepted relationship in theatre but, in Private Eye, there is no theatre, only a hotel room on the 28th floor of the Hyatt.

There is also no distance between audience and actor, no traditional audience at all and, therefore, no agreed behaviour in this renovated relationship between audience and actor.

We begin in one hotel room where Cuocolo explains how he employed a private detective to follow his wife, Bossetti. We watch a DVD of the surveillance.

In a second hotel room, Roberta greets me. She offers me a drink and seats me on the double bed in a room with a magnificent view and, I notice, too  many mirrors. All is secret and mysterious.

She talks about how, as a child, she loved games and fantasies and that, as an adult, she continues playing games.

Some dialogue is scripted but parts become a slightly stilted conversation. The interaction is intimate, like close friends. Roberta lies beside me, sits too close, looks into my face like a lover craving understanding.

We sit on the bed. She relates stories and we share thoughts until the phone rings. It is Renato. The call is an intimate code.

I expect her to show me out but she opens a cupboard door and asks me to sit in a chair inside. It is a two-way mirror. I knew there were too many mirrors.

While I am hidden, another viewer leaves. I have been under scrutiny of an unseen private eye too.  Now, here I am inside the tiny room, preparing to watch another unsuspecting viewer as her relationship with Roberta unfolds

But this next relationship shows another, less intimate Roberta. The notion of games and fantasies now has a different meaning. Adult fantasy is quite different from childhood play and I watch it.

Private eye is confronting and bemusing, raising issues of privacy, voyeurism, relationship, personal safety and discretion. The edges are blurred in this intimate piece of reality theatre.

By Kate Herbert

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