Private Lives – Noel Coward

Theatre Royal Bath

The new tour of Private Lives arrives in Bath this week. The classic play in typical Coward fashion considers the predicament of two divorcees Elyot and Amanda who are honeymooning in the South of France with their respective new partners. However they find themselves in adjacent hotel rooms and the subsequent rekindling of their relationship takes over with scant regard for their new spouses Sibyl and Victor; who in turn find themselves embroiled in a whirlwind romance.

  
The humour here feels jaded and dated. The rather monotonous delivery feels more of a barrage of disagreement whilst running Act 1 and Act 2 together leaves little chance for the audience to draw breath.

  
Laura Rogers is resplendent as the rather bohemian Amanda. Striking a great contrast to the younger, naive and subsequently more sensitive Sibyl (Charlotte Ritchie) the two women are set to be polar opposites, even in costume the glorious silks of Amanda accentuate the prowling and attacking nature of her desire.

  
Tom Chambers as Elyot Chase manages to get a Coward medley and a dance in to the piece, however this does not entirely make up for the overall lack of sparkle in the production.

  
The petulance of the characters leaves little to engage with, perhaps a lighter less strident touch would return some of the fizz that Coward was seeking in this social comedy.

 

*** – 3 Stars

Petra Schofield