Private Lives is a play by Noel Coward who I love. His plays are delightfully louche with strong women, dandy esque men (though they’re the wrong era to truly call them dandies) and truly fantastic sets, because they’re all set in the 20/30s.
Me and Maddie, of course, decided that this was a play we had to see and bought tickets accordingly. So after we’d spent hours at the Sealife Centre, making friends with Barry the eel, finding out star fish feel like fish fingers and being generally silly, we adulted up and went to the Alex.
With French windows on the stage as we sat down, I was practically vibrating with excitement. I’d never seen a Noel Coward play on the stage before and was convinced it was going to be incredible.
Tom Chambers (from Strictly Come Dancing,Waterloo Road and other British TV near you) was not good. I might even go so far as to say bad. As the handsome Elyot, he was rather good at twenties charleston and smoking leisurely. But his character went from affected apathy to shouting rage with no gradiation between the two. He also turned camp on occasion to make up for how badly he delivered a line that ought to get a laugh – which is pretty unforgivable. Its hard to see why either of the women would ever fall for him.
I thought Laura Rogers was rather good as “wild”, gender norm defying Amanda. Certainly when Elyot was rather sexist, her “what exactly did you just say” stare was glorious. But it’s possible that she only appeared to be so good because her leading man was so wooden.
Charlotte Richie and Richard Teverson were okay as the new spouses of Amanda and Elyot but nothing to write home about. However, the unknown actress as the French maid was great. I am immensely sad that she was only on stage for about five minutes.
Afterwards, I read some reviews from early in the run and the general consensus is that it is not a well acted play, and that it’s possible that the cast are merely going through the motions for the parts of England that aren’t London. And if that’s true, that’s really bad manners.