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September 6th - September 9th
In Private Lives, Noël Coward’s most popular and enduring stage comedy, strong passions and stronger personalities set the stage for a classic battle of the sexes.
1930. The South of France. Two newly-married couples occupy adjoining honeymoon suites in the same hotel. As a distant orchestra plays, Sibyl gazes adoringly at charismatic husband Elyot, while Victor admires his new wife, the vivacious and sophisticated Amanda.
Champagne flows and the sea shimmers in the moonlight as the newly weds prepare for the evening ahead. But when Amanda overhears a familiar voice singing a forgotten song, an old spark reignites, with spectacular consequences.
Full of razor-sharp wit and quick-fire dialogue, Private Lives remains Coward’s most popular and enduring stage comedy. Since its opening at London’s Phoenix Theatre in August 1930, the play has retained its remarkable appeal, captivating audiences worldwide.
“this masterpiece of wit and observation effortlessly retains its freshness and relevance” Worcester News
Ticket price includes a £1 contribution to our heritage fund.
87 years after it was first staged (directed by and starring the author himself), London Classic Theatre bring Noel Coward’s Private Lives to Malvern, giving it the honour of hosting its very first week of a near 3-month tour.
The story revolves around an unexpected – and unlikely – coincidence. In 1930, two newly-married couples end up in the same resort, same hotel, in fact adjacent rooms. The coincidence? On the one side, he, Elyot, used to be married to her, Amanda, on the other. But he is now married to Sibyl and she is married to Victor. Expect sparks to fly when they first spy each other across the balcony...
Unfortunately neither couple seem particularly content with their lot. Sybil (Olivia Beardsley) seems more interested in hubby Elyot’s (Jack Hardwick) relationship with his former wife whilst Amanda (Helen Keeley) clearly finds Victor (Kieran Buckeridge) well, rather boring... Not that the first marriage was perfect with Elyot seemingly violent and abusive but opposites attract and it is not long before the pair realise that they are still love 5 years on and should never have divorced. And so it is in the second half that we see them having upped sticks from Deauville to her apartment in Paris, complete with maid Louise (Rachael Holmes-Brown) to continue their relationship.
Nothing has changed though and much of the humour comes from their bickering and sometimes physical interaction (plenty of slapping of faces and throwing of objects!). This is one couple who clearly can’t live with each other, can’t live without each other, which leaves Victor and Amanda to provide a happy ending. Ahem, maybe not!
For a first night of a new run, it all went seemingly without a hitch and all the cast perfectly portrayed their characters from a time gone by, helped by a set which accurately suggests a level of past opulence which the characters inhabit. Given that there is no curtain, the audience immediately sees the setting when entering the auditorium - it would be beneficial if the music was a little louder to welcome the patrons and get them in the mood for this smart new run of a much-loved classic from a very British author.