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An Ear for the Lonely

The Private Ear Directed by George Reyes At the Union Through November 9

By P. GREGORY Maravilla

For the lonely at heart, for the romantic whose ambitions have faltered, or even for the dreamers who equate love with fine classical music--this is your story.

Nora Theater presents The Private Ear, a production compelling enough to appeal to the most disheartened romantics. Director George Reyes has breathed commendable theatrical intensity into this script, sparing the audience from a potentially boring one-hour circus.

Reyes cleverly skirted disaster on this outing. Peter Shaffer's script for The Private Ear rarely distinguishes itself from other "boy is too shy to get the girl" narratives, but the director chose three exceptional actors to portray the play's only characters.

The whole of The Private Ear transpires in the humble apartment of handsome and artsy Tchiak (Josh Walker), so named for his dogmatic love of Tchaikovsky and other classical music. The plot involves a rare visit from a female caller, Doreen (Elizabeth Price). Tchiak and Doreen have met at a classical recital and arranged to have dinner at his apartment, an eagerly and nervously awaited event.

Unfortunately for Tchiak, his intellectual bumblings and Doreen's working class values do not mesh. They fail to hit it off, but Tchiak's friend Ted (George Duffield) charms Doreen with his slick small talk.

Tchiak spends the remainder of the evening in a drunken pout, disillusioned when his fantasies of Doreen as a soul sister of the goddess Venus go unfulfilled. Doreen and Ted remain unperturbed as they chatter.

Walker convincingly portrays Tchiak's character as an impassioned but frustrated visionary. One particular scene in the play affords the audience a glimpse into Tchiak's inner confusion--as Doreen and Ted exchange flirtish small-talk (a taped conversation played at double speed), Tchiak broods under the spotlight of depression, stagnant and withdrawn.

Ted adds an uplifting element to this otherwise somber tribute to relationships. He provides a direct contrast to Tchiak and frequently attempts to bring some reality into his friend's dour attitude. Shortly before Doreen arrives, he comments (no doubt from experience), "Just remember, Tchiak, they're just flesh and blood."

This trio of quality performances is completed by Elizabeth Price, who brings Doreen's demure and simple-minded character to life. She frequently rejects Tchiak's rebellious attitude with lessons on how to live: "My father says, 'A life without ambition isn't worth living.'"

The minimal stage used in The Private Ear emphasizes Tchaik's barren existence, and the colored lighting heightens the play's moody aura.

The Private Ear gives the audience a peek at the darker, more complex side of relationships, thanks to some custom-crafted performances by the main characters and a short but sharp plot.

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