Noel Coward’s Private Lives is a 1930 comedy. The story centres on Elyot and Amanda a divorced couple who have seemingly moved on.
Elyot Chase played ‘spiffingly’ by Ricky Oakley, is honeymooning with the new love of his life Sybil, (Harriet Leitch), a few years younger than Elyot’s former wife and perhaps a little more naive. Sybil is a little concerned that she will not live up to her husband’s previous spouse, however he assures her that he had a lucky escape as his former marriage was disastrous and his wife was terrible to live with.
In an adjacent room are another newly-wed couple, Victor and Amanda Prynne (Ryan Penny and Fizz Waller). We soon realise that Amanda is of course the former wife of Elyot and as she tells her new husband her former husband was an absolute cad.
The audience gets the feeling that maybe Victor is not as wild a choice for a husband as she would like.
The scene set, it’s not long before the two couples lives collide. The facial expressions from Amanda when she recognises that her former husband is in the next room are hilarious. While Elyot and Amanda couldn’t live together it soon becomes apparent to us and indeed them that they cannot live apart and that maybe their divorce was a wrong decision. The ensuing love scene (which almost got the play banned when it was first performed) is played with comic perfection in this production, but we can see it was a fiery relationship.
So what are they to do? Do they bury their love or rekindle it? and what of their new partners?
Red Rose director Jo Carrick has once again taken an established production and added the Red Rose stamp to it. There are some terrific comedy pieces, I love the way that Carrick breaks the fourth wall and when Amanda talks and it’s clear that Elyot is not listening to her she turns to a member of the audience instead.
A special mention to support cast member Rei Mordue, the somewhat exasperated french maid who manages to express her feelings with just a “look”.
The company are very clever at picking the perfect actors for it’s productions, but special credit to Fizz Waller for an outstandingly hilarious portrayal of the vampish Amanda.
Private Lives is at Red Rose Chain’s Avenue Theatre until 7th April, go see it!!
Box office 01473 603388 – Redrosechain.com
Review: Mark Keable, Ipswich24 Magazine
Pictures: Bill Jackson