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Tour de force of a classic play

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What a treat this is - two theatrical giants in a slick, sophisticated comedy by one of the country’s greatest writers.

Private Lives was written in 1930 by Noel Coward but hasn’t aged at all - it is still a terrific observation of that strange relationship men and women can have, especially when it comes to married life (can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em) plus sharp comments on pomposity, moral wellbeing, tolerance, manners - and more.

It’s a tour de force by the two leading actors, Patricia Hodge and Nigel Havers, who play divorced couple Amanda and Elyot who can’t quite let each other go.

Patricia Hodge and Nigel Havers in Private Lives. (55776527)
Patricia Hodge and Nigel Havers in Private Lives. (55776527)

They know exactly how to wind each other up and their bickerings are quite spectacularly savage. Add in their new partners, poor Victor (Dugald Bruce-Lockhart) and Sibyl (Natalie Walter), and it’s a messy affair- in all senses of the word.

The show is delivered at a cracking pace, with the audience enjoying the rollercoaster ride greatly. It’s relentlessly amusing, with plenty of laugh out loud moments, and do listen out for that classic line about our own county’s landscape, beautifully delivered by Patricia.

The play is the first production from Nigel’s own company so must be doubly satisfying for him and it is great to have it here after a two year delay due to the pandemic.

The play continues until Saturday.

Sarah Hardy

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