Review: ‘Private’ presented by San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company (*****)

Aidaa Peerzada as Georgia and Sedrick Cabrera as Corbin struggle to make sense of their relationship in Mona Pirnot’s “Private” presented by San Francisco Bay Area Theater. Photo Credit: San Francisco Bay Area Theater Company

by Charles Kruger

Reviewed by a voting member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle.’

“Private” is a wonderful play, full of surprises and excellent writing.

Here’s the setup:

Corbin (Sedrick Cabrera) hasn’t been having much success, but he is thrilled to have finally landed an excellent job with a tech start up. Unfortunately, there is a fly in the ointment: his new employer requires that the company have access to all of his social media—and his wife’s as well—so as to monitor for evidence of corporate espionage. The previous job holder was fired for just such an offense, and the company is anxious to avoid a repeat performance. The monitoring, he is assured, is strictly automated and works by algorithms. Computers will flag suspicious words or behaviors and only then would there be a live review. Nothing to worry about.

Corbin, anxious to take the job and provide a better life for himself and his partner, Georgia (Aidaa Peerzada), sets his doubts aside and accepts the position. But he doesn’t tell his wife that he’s done so. He figures he’ll lay out the conditions, and convince her that he should go ahead—no need for her to know he’s already said “yes.”

All goes according to plan until, at a company party, Georgia discovers the lie. And then the shit hits the fan.

The play at this point takes an unexpected turn. I anticipated that complex discussions about privacy and corporate reliability and the tech world would take up the evening. But clever playwright Mona Pirnot spins off in unexpected directions. Instead of dealing with the public issues, she focusses our attention on the private effects within the intimate crucible of Corbin’s and Georgia’s marriage. What might have been a play about social issues becomes an intimate study of a marriage under pressure.

The private issues and the social issues are conflated. We are left wondering: what does “private” mean after all? And to what extent are our presumably “private” lives impacted by our public experiences?

What is articulated brilliantly is the intimate life of the two partners. And “articulate” is the operative word: the language sparkles, bounces, whirls, and promenades as these two very smart people try to sort things out. The intimate humor of the piece is hilariously funny, reminding this reviewer of Christopher Durang, while the insight into the marriage relationship evokes memories of Edward Albee. It’s wonderful.

Guided by excellent direction from Peter J. Kuo, the acting ensemble seems to find every possible nuance in the very fine script. Each moment has been polished until it shines. Kuo has made sure that rhythms are varied constantly, discoveries come quickly upon one another, and emotions rise to impressive heights of intensity and than recede to prepare for the next wave. There is never a dull moment.

The leading couple is supported more than capably by two other characters: Abbey (Risa Ferrer), Corbin’s excessively high strung work colleague, and Jordan (Adam Maggio), Georgia’s laid back best friend.

“Private” offers ensemble acting on the high wire: emotionally risky, very exciting, while having something important to say to all of us.

Worth calling out is Celeste Martore’s excellent set design where crib like slats of wood serving for walls create a sense both of a prison cell and an environment in which the public and the private spheres permeate one another so that it is hard to tell the difference.

Highest recommendation!

Private” continues at Protero Stage through April 2, 2023. For further information click here


Rating: ***** (For an explanation of Theatrestorm’s rating scale, click here.)


“Private” by Mona Pirnot, presented by San Francisco Bay Area Theater Company. Director: Peter J. Kuo. Scenic Designer: Celeste Martore. Costume Designer: Tiersa Nureyev. Lighting Designer: Claudio Andres Silva Restrepo. Sound Designer: Ray Archie. Stage Manager: Taylor Mendez.


Georgia: Aidaa Peerzada. Corbin: Sedrick Cabrera. Abbey: Risa Ferrer. Jordan: Adam Maggio.

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