The second show PJ and I saw last week in New York was the revival of Noel Coward’s Private Lives starring Kim Cattrall and Paul Gross, who play Amanda and Elyot, respectively, a divorced couple who meet again during their honeymoons with their new spouses.

Both quickly realize that they’re still in love, and comic mayhem ensues as they flee their new spouses and run off together to Amanda’s Paris apartment. The reason their previous marriage fell apart five years ago, however, was that Elyot and Amanda fight as passionately as they make love. We see both sides of their relationship in Acts 2 and 3.

Here’s a brief glance at the Canadian production, which is nearly the same as the one in New York:

This next sentence is probably one of the gayest things I’ve ever written: one of my favorite plays as a kid was Private Lives.

My parents raised us to be black-and-white movie buffs, and the 1931 film of Private Lives starring Norma Shearer and Robert Montgomery was a huge hit with me:

So, I’m predisposed to love everything about this production, which received mixed reviews from critics. I thought Cattrall was excellent as Amanda, and Gross was also good as Elyot. The one problem I have with the production is the set in the second and third acts: it’s too big for what happens in these scenes. Coward’s play is largely witty dialogue with some farcical fighting. The set for these scenes is cavernous, and I found myself looking around at it rather than keeping focused on the action.

Other than that, I thought that this is a lovely production of a classic of the American theater. Many critics have compared it to the Alan Rickman-Lindsay Duncan revival a decade ago, which doesn’t seem fair. I found a clip of it too:

One can’t fault this production for not being that production. I enjoyed it — though PJ, and our friends Nathanael and James didn’t.

Advertisements