by Noël Coward.
Waterside Theatre Aylesbury 7-12 March.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm.
Audio-described/Captioned Sat 2.30pm (+ Touch Tour 11am-12pm).
TICKETS: 0844 871 7607
then Theatre Royal Sawclose 14-19 March 2016.
Mon-Wed 7.30pm Thu-Sat 8pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm.
TICKETS: 01225 448844.
Runs 2hr One interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 7 March
Hyper-active Private Lives.
Strong temperaments emerge in fisticuffs when divorced Amanda and Elyot are reunited on adjacent hotel balconies and elope from Deauville to Paris from their second honeymoons.
William Shakespeare wins hands-down for the poetry of Juliet’s balcony, but for dramatic structure Noël Coward is supreme, establishing awkward details in the prospective calmer second marriages, building to mutual recognition in the dangerous moonlight, and the inevitability of Elyot sweeping Amanda off her feet.
Literally in Tom Attenborough’s production, which brings an all-though physical energy, increased by placing the single interval three-act plays are now generally afforded not after the first act but playing continuously to the second act’s conclusion and the deposed second spouses’ joint arrival at Amanda and Elyot’s Paris flat.
Till then, aided by the production’s swift-footed stage-management and scene-shifting, the energy has been relentless. At 40-minutes, accommodating stage business and verbal vehemence, the opening act here is longest of the three, becoming pace-setter for the production, rather than prelude to the main event.
It can become too relentless, with Tom Chambers’ self-pleased Elyot indulging a self-conscious style. Laura Rogers’ Amanda manages to find within the overall pell-mell pacing some moments of reflection, suggesting a divided temperament where all is not sound and fury.
Doing so, she finds moments, surprising in Coward, showing brief reflection of vulnerability as a woman in a society where male assumptions of supremacy reign supreme. Strangely, the other reminder of woman power, the French servant Louise, remains subdued in space and time.
The other partners are far from also-rans (they were originally played by Laurence Olivier and Adrianne Allen – wife and mother to the Massey dynasty).
Here, Richard Teverson brings a controlled yet fresh-blooded comedy to Victor, while Charlotte Ritchie’s Amanda has a sharp focus suggesting a lively Amanda of her own one day, and a range of dramatic energy across a wide repertory to come, through a performance of high-defined precision.
More than a match for Teverson’s English politeness, she also takes no hits from an Elyot who might one day find himself seeking shelter with Amanda. And all without losing a glamorous moment.
Sibyl Chase: Charlotte Ritchie.
Elyot Chase: Tom Chambers.
Victor Prynne: Richard Teverson.
Amanda Prynne: Laura Rogers.
Louise: Victoria Rigby.
Director: Tom Attenborough.
Designer: Lucy Osborne.
Lighting: Oliver Fenwick.
Sound: Gregory Clarke.
Hair: Carole Hancock.
Voice coach: Barbara Houseman.
Fight director: Bret Yount.
Associate director: Ben Woolf.