When I set out on the road to Plymouth, I had no idea of the excitement I was in for that evening; London Classic Theatre’s production of Noël Coward’s ‘Private Lives’ brightened up my evening in so many delightful ways I had not anticipated. The plot, although set in the 1930s, is timeless, focusing on two newly wed couples who are on their honeymoons in France, and coincidentally happen to be staying in adjacent hotel rooms. The twist however? Elyot, from one couple, had been married 5 years ago to Amanda, from the other couple; upon discovering each other, old sparks reignite, and we are taken on an adventure of humour, passion and a good old-fashioned battle of the sexes.
The set was simplistic yet incredibly effective, with the first half of the play being set on the two adjacent balconies. The stage featured two huge windows with slatted doors next to each other, with a line of plants dividing the space in half, and a table and chairs on either side, mirroring each other. The set was then transformed during the interval to resemble Amanda’s Parisian apartment, which cleverly resembled a sitting room with realistic décor of the time, including a record player and drinks cabinet.
The actors utilised the space, props and set exceedingly well, particularly in the Act 2 scene when Amanda and Elyot chase one another around the room, clambering over furniture and throwing pillows at each other. At one point, a record is even broken on Elyot’s head; however, what really shone through in this performance was the chemistry shared by Helen Keeley and Jack Hardwick, complimenting the incredible flow of the witty dialogue that passed between them.
One particularly memorable moment was when Amanda and Elyot are debating whether to run away from their new partners; Amanda one moment declares she cannot be so wicked, then the next excitedly grabs Elyot’s hand. This wild panic only stops when Elyot pulls her into a kiss, after which she suddenly becomes subdued and agrees to follow him wherever, much to the amusement of the audience.
what really shone through in this performance was the chemistry shared by Helen Keeley and Jack Hardwick
The actors playing Elyot and Amanda’s new partners have to be commended as well for managing to be so exceedingly annoying that I found myself siding with Amanda and Elyot’s decisions. Sybil, played by Olivia Beardsley, managed to keep up such a shrill, high pitched voice that it was enough to make anyone want to purchase a very sound proof pair of headphones, although you can’t help feeling slightly sorry for how pathetic she appears. Meanwhile Amanda’s new beau Victor, played by Kieron Buckeridge, was hilarious in his utter infatuation with Amanda. His temper also went from 0 to 60 miles an hour, and, entertainingly, going as far to suggest a fist fight with Elyot. London Classic Theatre’s production of ‘Private Lives’ is thoroughly amusing, and although at times it can all feel too ridiculous and farcical, that is also the beauty of it, and what will make you genuinely laugh.