Inside Private Lives provides a platform for audience members to interact with infamous or celebrated personages from the 20th century, as re-created by the ensemble in a series of monologues. The shows efforts to dismantle the fourth wall yield tame results at best. One problem involves timeliness. The night I attended, the lineup (which varies from night to night) included Christine Jorgensen, Billy Carter, David Koresh, Julia Phillips, Elia Kazan and Marge Schott. None of these people is in the limelight today and with the exception of Kazan their public lives, once deemed provocative, no longer seem controversial or even relevant. (How much more volcanic the show might have been had we been able to challenge Karl Rove or Eliot Spitzer, or the current media queen bee, Sarah Palin.). Another drawback is having to rely on the audience for conflict: Even primed with preshow champagne, my fellow theatergoers questions, though earnestly exhorted, induced only scant dramatic dustup. And the monologues themselves, developed collaboratively by creator-producer Kristin Stone, director Michael Cohn and the individual performers, were uneven in quality. Three performances succeeded: Adam LeBows intense Kazan, Mary McDonalds bitingly comic Schott, and Leonora Gershman, on-target as Hollywood bad girl, Julia Phillips. But Stones flirty Jorgenson, Bryan Safis sloppily inebriated Carter and David Shofners uncompelling Koresh all lacked persuasiveness, and some of the too-familiar liberties taken with audience members were just embarrassing.
Sundays, 7 p.m. Starts: Sept. 7. Continues through March 1, 2008