Devonshire double bill of bitter-sweet comedies

Rupert Hill and Siobhan O'Kelly during The Private Ear and The Public Eye Rehearsals. Photo: Jack Ladenburg
Rupert Hill and Siobhan O'Kelly during The Private Ear and The Public Eye Rehearsals. Photo: Jack Ladenburg

Drama fans are in for a treat this autumn as the hugely-acclaimed Original Theatre Company (See How They Run, Three Men in a Boat) return to Eastbourne with the first major revival in 50 years of multi-award winning British playwright Sir Peter Shaffer’s The Private Ear and The Public Eye, at the Devonshire Park Theatre from September 30-October 5.

This double-bill of two one-act plays was first performed in London’s West End in 1962, starring the young Kenneth Williams and Maggie Smith. The plays then transferred successfully to Broadway in 1963, starring Barry Foster and Geraldine McEwan.

These short and bitter-sweet comedies are performed as a matching pair on the same night and give the audience a fascinating window into the turbulent changing attitudes to love in the 1960s through a combination of comedy, pathos and drama.

The Private Ear is set in a musky London bedsit, where reclusive Bob, normally used to giving his full attention to his record collection, calls in a favour from Ted, his slick, confident friend, to help him treat his date, the beautiful, shy Doreen, to a slap up meal.

The Public Eye takes place in a swanky London accountancy office, where uptight Charles is confronted by Julian, an eccentric private detective hired by Charles to investigate Belinda, his young wife, whom he suspects of infidelity.

Starring Jasper Britton (fresh from starring in David Mamet’s Race at Hampstead Theatre) as Charles, Steven Blakeley (Heartbeat) in the dual roles of Bob and Julian, Rupert Hill (Coronation Street) as Ted and Siobhan O’Kelly (Inspector George Gently) in the dual roles of Doreen and Belinda.

Nightly performances at 7.45pm with Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm, tickets priced from £14.50, to book call the box office on 01323 412000 or online www.eastbournetheatres.co.uk

Pictured: Steven Blakeley and Rupert Hill during The Private Ear and The Public Eye Rehearsals. Picture: Jack Ladenburg