Private Fears In Public Places: Synopsis

Cast: 3 male / 3 female (+ 1 male off-stage voice)
Running time (approximate): 1 hour and forty-five minutes (Private Fears In Public Places does not have an interval).
Availability: Private Fears In Public Places is available for both professional and amateur production.
Acting edition: Published by Faber.

Private Fears In Public Places has four stories, interwoven over 54 scenes. To facilitate the synopsis, each story is laid out separately. The action takes place in various flats, an office, a sitting room, a kitchen, a cafe and a hotel bar.

Nicola & Dan

Characters

Nicola
Dan (Her fiancé)
Stewart
Imogen (His sister)
Ambrose
Charlotte
Arthur (Ambrose's father)

Note: Ambrose's father is an off-stage voice.
Nicola is flat-hunting but her unemployed partner, Dan, is late. Nicola leaves, unaware Dan is drinking at a hotel bar.
At their flat, Nicola is upset with Dan and tells him he has to find a job. Dan returns to the bar, served by Ambrose, revealing he was thrown out of the army. He eventually returns home drunk, Nicolas ignores him and he vows to sleep in the hall.
At another flat viewing, Nicola is irate with Dan; they argue and Dan returns to the bar. He rails against Nicola, Ambrose hints at an important past relationship and suggests Dan meet other women.
Back at the flat, Nicola tells Dan she wants to separate. He reveals he is estranged from his father and doesn’t know where to go.
Dan stays in the hotel and tells Ambrose he has put an advert at a dating agency. An upset Nicola begins to destroy Dan’s letters.
Nicola goes to the hotel to meet Dan for a possible reconciliation, but it becomes obvious to her there is no future with Dan. She returns home and packs her cases.

Charlotte & Stewart
Estate agent Stewart returns to the office after showing Nicola a flat. He chats with his colleague Charlotte, who mentions she has a video of Songs That Changed My Life for him. He watches the faith show at home; to his surprise it is followed by a porn movie. He returns it to Charlotte and awkwardly compliments her. She offers him another tape, which is like the last, indicating Charlotte is in the porn film. The next day he tries to kiss Charlotte, but she pulls away and Stewart, aware he has crossed a line, hurriedly leaves.
The day after, Stewart awkwardly apologizes. Charlotte tells him her faith allows her to forgive him and that there is evil in all of them. As a peace offering, she offers him another tape. He decides to go off sick for the day. At home, he watches the video: there is the faith programme, but all that follows is static.

Stewart & Imogen
Brother and sister Stewart and Imogen share the same flat. Stewart returns home, just as Imogen supposedly leaves for a night out with the girls. She arrives at a bar alone, pins a flower to her coat and waits on an internet date.
At home, Stewart watches the tape Charlotte has given him. It has been recorded over a porn movie and Stewart is transfixed. Imogen returns home and both lie about their evenings.
Another night and Imogen goes out again, but abruptly leaves the café. Stewart watches another video and realizes Charlotte is in the porn movie. Imogen returns and sees him watching the film.
Imogen leaves for another night out, not talking to Stewart. She meets Dan on a date, under assumed names. Despite their differences, they get on well and agree to see each other again at the hotel where Dan is staying.
Imogen returns home drunk and reveals she was out with Dan and accuses Stewart of being a ‘greasy pornographer’.
Imogen returns to the hotel the next day but leaves distraught when she sees Dan with Nicola. Too late, Dan realizes what has happened and has no way to contact her. He goes back to the bar and his drink. Imogen returns and sits with Stewart, embracing him; brother and sister drawing comfort from each other.

Ambrose & Charlotte
Ambrose lives alone with his invalid father. Due to his work at the hotel bar, he has to hire carers for Arthur and his new one is Charlotte. Off-stage and unseen Arthur is belligerent and rude. Charlotte’s strong faith is revealed and she is introduced to an unimpressed Arthur.
Charlotte makes some soup, which Arthur throws at her. She seeks solace in her bible. Ambrose returns and tells Charlotte he promised Arthur he would not put him in a home. Charlotte reveals she likes a challenge and to give up would be to give in to the Devil.
Another night and more abuse for Charlotte. Ambrose returns and reveals he cared for his mother after his own partner died and began looking after his estranged father after she died.
A third evening and Charlotte has brought more than her bible; she changes into a sexy outfit and goes to see Arthur. He is dumbstruck.
Ambrose returns to find Charlotte kneeling with her bible and Arthur sound asleep with a smile on his face. Later that night he has a heart-attack, apparently hallucinating Charlotte danced naked for him. Ambrose and Charlotte meet a final time and she tells him there is a hell-fire within everyone, which can consume others. It is implied that Ambrose is gay. As she leaves, Charlotte hands Ambrose a video.

Copyright: Simon Murgatroyd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.

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