Reviewed by Richard Lane
Noel Coward’s 1930’s Private Lives is a difficult work for Australian directors but who better than Barry Hill to tackle it. Nobody does Coward better than Mr Hill.
Elyot Chase played by John Koch and Amanda Prynne, Dianne K Lang, divorced for five years have each recently married another and arrive coincidentally at the same French hotel in adjoining suites. Their passion for one another is rekindled and they flee to Amanda’s Parisian flat showing scant regard for their spouses.Elyot and Amanda are rich, careless people with nothing better to do than make love followed by sessions of venomous quarreling.
After a slightly sticky start this production sails along nicely. Mr Hill has beautifully brought out the indulgent yet glamorous, the passionate yet awful , rekindled relationship between Elyot and Amanda.
ActII is virtually a two- hander for our lovers, where we see them running the gamut of emotions from love to detestation. John is quite suave as Elyot, although he doesn’t always master the clipped and rapid rattle of Coward’s arch dialogue. Dianne is stylish and disciplined as Amanda, while Brad Martin as the cuckolded Victor is suitably stodgy. Alison Scharber is a fine foil for her philandering husband and Tamara Bennetts (Louisa) in her cameo role is quaintly amusing.
Patsy Thomas’s Act I set limits stage movement but the main set is fashionable and elegant, perfect for Amanda. The costumes are uncredited but are impeccable for the piece, glamorous , stylish and chic.
Richard Parkhill’s lighting works very well, particularly in the opening scene and later as the morning light streams through the window.
Act III brings on the denouement we were all expecting and Barry Hill and his cast have entertained us well with Noel Coward’s risqué and pungent play.