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Neal Bell’s “Now You See Me” Examines Reality TV with a Gimlet Eye

"Now You See Me" premieres March 17th at Manbites Dog Theater

Neal Bell's "Now You See Me" premieres March 17th at Manbites Dog Theater

Editor’s Note: This preview was radically revised on March 23rd to correct a number of errors in the original preview.

The Duke University Department of Theater Studies and Manbites Dog Theater of Durham, NC will present the world premiere of Now You See Me, a new play written by Durham playwright Neal C. Bell and directed by fellow Duke Theatre Studies faculty member Jody McAuliffe, on March 17-20 and 23-26. The play, which examines Reality TV with a gimlet eye, stars Chris Burner, J Evarts, Rachel Klem, Carl Martin, Tony Perucci, and Jennifer Evans.

According to Duke Theater Studies:

Previously on ‘Final Battle’ … Claire has a significant relationship with her TV: she talks and it answers her. Diagnosed with terminal cancer, she auditions to participate in a reality TV show so she can fight her ‘Final Battle’ in front of millions of viewers. [Now You See Me is] A satire about life, love, and death on TV….

“[Playwright Neal] Bell’s latest play … takes as its theme America’s obsession with reality television. [A March 20, 2010 staged reading of Now You See Me was] part of Duke’s annual new works festival [last year]. One of the primary missions of the Department of Theater Studies is to play a role in the creation and development of new works for the American theater.

“Local actors Jeffrey Detwiler, Chris Burner, Katja Hill, Frank Lentricchia, and Nicole Quenelle … read [on March 20, 2010]; and Laine Hindley … stage manage[d]. Videographer and Duke faculty member Shambhavi Kaul … provide[d] the video components for the play.

“[Dramatist Neal] Bell was awarded an OBIE Award in 1992 for sustained achievement in playwriting, and he has been recognized with fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation.”

In addition to playwright Neal Bell and director Jody McAuliffe, the creative team for Duke Theater Studies and Manbites Dog Theater’s 2011 world premiere of Now You See Me includes scenic and costume designer Sonya Leigh Drum, lighting designer Roz Fulton, video designer William Noland, assistant video designer Nick Wiesner, sound designer and properties manager Jennifer Evans, and stage manager Jessica McGloin.

SECOND OPINION: March 23, 2011 Durham, NC Independent Weekly review by Adam Sobsey (who awarded the show 3.5 of 5 stars): and March 15, 2011 interview of playwright Neal C. Bell by Byron Woods:; March 22, 2011 Raleigh, NC News & Observer review by Glenn McDonald:; and March 21, 2011 Raleigh, NC Classical Voice of North Carolina review by Kate Dobbs Ariail:; and Feb. 28, 2010 New York City preview by Allison Klamkin: (Note: To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the March 24, 2011 Triangle Theater Review review by Robert W. McDowell, click

The Duke University Department of Theater Studies and Manbites Dog Theater presents NOW YOU SEE, a world premiere of a new play by Neal Bell, at 8:15 p.m. March 17-19, 3:15 p.m. March 20, and 8:15 p.m. March 23-26 at 703 Foster St., Durham, North Carolina 27701.

TICKETS: $12 weeknights and $17 Friday-Saturday, except March 17th pay-what-you-can preview (door sales only, $5 minimum), $5 Student Rush Tickets, and $2 discount for seniors 62+ and active-duty military personnel.

BOX OFFICE: 919/682-3343 or SHOW:


Duke University Department of Theater Studies:

Manbites Dog Theater:




Neal C. Bell: (Duke Theater Studies).

Jody McAuliffe: (Duke Theater Studies).


Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

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