Thurs 5th October - Sat 7th October & Thurs 12th October - Sat 14th October 1978
Directed by Jacquie Penrose
Glamorous, rich and reckless, Elyot and Amanda have been divorced for five years, and are enjoying honeymoons with their new spouses in the South of France. When they meet again across adjoining hotel balconies, their insatiable feelings for each other are immediately rekindled.
'Private Lives' is a comedy of manners written in 1930. It focuses on a divorced couple, Elyot and Amanda who discover that they are honeymooning with their new spouses in the same hotel. After a chance meeting, without a care for scandal, their new partners, or any memory of what drove them apart in the first place, they hurl themselves headlong into an affair. Before long it becomes clear that while Elyot and Amanda cannot live without each other, they can't live with each other either. When the affair is discovered, the two wronged spouses, Sybil and Victor, argue vehemently and the ending has a suitable Coward-esque twist.
The play has been said by some to represent Coward's own attitudes to marriage. It was written in Shanghai in 1931 while Coward was recovering from a bout of influenza. After touring the provinces, the play opened the new Phoenix Theatre in London in 1930, starring Coward, Gertrude Lawrence, Adrianne Allen and Laurence Olivier. A Broadway production followed in 1931, and the play has been revived many times in the West End and on Broadway.
This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.
|Victor Prynne||Tony Czapp|
|Stage Manager||Langley Gifford|
|Assistant Stage Managers||Cathy Foster|
|Set Design||Chris Shaw|
|Set Construction||Brian Sweatman|
|Set Construction||Ray Osborne|
|Set Construction||Ed Sawyer|
|Props||Jaki Curtis |
A cast of five had to work hard in 'Private Lives' by Noël Coward. The presentation demanded a high standard of action - and they succeeded admirably. The Bench Theatre Group has the ideal intimate setting at Havant Arts Centre, East Street. The play has heavy dependence on dialogue rather than plot, and is full of humour. Elyot (David Penrose) was extremely well portrayed. His dry humour in the opening scene, his "been through it all before" attitude, and his flippancy in act three, was excellent. The other main character of the play is Amanda (Linda Westbrooke). Her strength of character lacked punch in the first part of the play and she made a minor error in her lines, but it was not an obvious mistake and she carried on to prove a worthy match for Elyot.
Action centres around Elyot and Amanda, the whole of the second act is theirs and is by far the highlight of the play. Secondary characters in the play, Victor (Tony Czapp) and Sibyl (Anne Brodrick), were played equally well. But they really only existed as figures to be knocked down time and again like skittles. Their naive and idealistic approach to marriage contrasted vividly with the attitude of the divorcees Amanda and Elyot. The plot is non-existent, but the witty repartee is well worth witnessing, especially when Elyot is given such lines as "Women should be struck regularly - like a gong." It was a full house and hearty laughter echoed around the hall. Serving no real purpose in the play, other than to add variety, was the appearance of a French maid, Louise, played by Anna Gawley. 'Private Lives' will also play on October 12, 13, and 14. Performances start at 7.30 p.m.
The News, 9th October 1978