Tuesday, 9 July 2013

'Private Lives' Gielgud Theatre ****

The Chichester Festival Theatre never ceases to amaze me with such productions as 'Kiss Me, Kate', 'Sweeney Todd: The Musical' and 'Singin' in the Rain' proving such successes in the West End and the transfer of Noel Coward's 1930 comedy 'Private Lives' is as good as them. The comedic performances by Toby Stephens, who plays Elyot Chase and Anna Chancellor, who plays Amanda Prynne were superb through the use of Noel Coward's legendary words and I particularly loved the idea of when the two ex counterparts argue they quickly resolve the issue by the drinking of alcohol and romancing. The two roles were played with such tenacity that I believed every ounce that they spoke. The two supporting roles of Victor Prynne (Anthony Calf) and Sibyl Chase (Anna-Louise Plowman) were just as convincing and on par with Stephens and Chancellor. The Casting Director, Gabrielle Dawes has done a grand job with these wondrous decisions. i found Jonathan Kent's ingenious direction for the whole production  to have been with such understanding of Coward's text  especially the use of violence, which back in the 1930's when the theatre's official censor, the Lord Chamberlain was still around at the time that 'Private Lives' was first staged. Even thought this was an occurrence the reader George Street found it difficult to censor large proportions of the original play script due to its comic values. The set and costume design by Anthony Ward was absolutely terrific as it conveyed the time that the play is set with such a luxurious vision of glamour and wealth. The lighting design by Mark Henderson and sound design by Paul Groothuis depicted the fraught atmosphere that surrounded the performances by the company. I had a really interesting time seeing a highly amusing play that if you want to see a hilariously funny show this summer then this is the production for you.        

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