×

Private Lives

Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey's summer offering is a delectable revival of Noel Coward's durable farce, "Private Lives." Conceived 78 years ago during a sleepless night in a Tokyo hotel, the comedy was constructed in its entirety by dawn and completed by the playwright in a mere four days. Director Paul Mullins has harnessed the manners of the period and shows respect for the play's intrinsic sense of style and grace, while the attractively able cast displays a keen awareness of Coward's gift for verbal musicality, capturing the rhythm of the dialogue and pulse of the period.

With:
Sybil Chase - Charlotte Parry Elyot Chase - Scott Barrow Victor Prynne - Robert Gomes Amanda Prynne - Caralyn Kozlowski Louise - Mary Dierson

Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey’s summer offering is a delectable revival of Noel Coward’s durable farce, “Private Lives.” Conceived 78 years ago during a sleepless night in a Tokyo hotel, the comedy was constructed in its entirety by dawn and completed by the playwright in a mere four days. Director Paul Mullins has harnessed the manners of the period and shows respect for the play’s intrinsic sense of style and grace, while the attractively able cast displays a keen awareness of Coward’s gift for verbal musicality, capturing the rhythm of the dialogue and pulse of the period.

Devilishly simple in design, the ageless comedy finds a divorced couple meeting again while honeymooning with their new mates at a posh French resort. They realize instantly they are still very much in love, fleeing together to a Paris nest only to engage in a series of turbulent rows before being tracked down by their new spouses, who have followed in hot pursuit.

Amanda Prynne is played by with alluring elegance and finesse by Caralyn Kozlowski. Humming the strains of Coward’s “Someday I’ll Find You” in the calm before the storm, she is the essence of the playwright’s “pretty and sleek” sophisticate, handling the barbs with the lethal accuracy of a pointed rapier.

Scott Barrow is crisply starch as Amanda’s former hubby, Elyot Chase: debonair, flippant and petulant. As the warring lovers, they go at each other “hammer and tongs,” notably in a second-act brawl staged by fight director Rick Sordelet. Gramophone records are busted over Elyot’s head, feathery pillows are tossed about and torn apart and furniture is overturned, reducing the set to a shambles by the time the curtain descends.

Dandy support comes from Robert Gomes as Amanda’s stuffy new husband, who defines pomposity with militant poise. And one can’t quibble with Sybil as acted by Charlotte Parry. She is a delightfully mousy twit and a “completely feminine little creature” who whines with squeaky grandeur. She also leaps over a sofa with Olympian agility.

The third act cameo of a disgruntled French maid is played by Mary Dierson with great comic abandon, entering following a battle royal, only to stumble in the dark over the wreckage of the night before.

James Wolk’s set design moves from a moonlight terrace to a stylish Paris apartment that serves as a battleground. Despite the presence of a Picasso, there are a tad too many brightly colored art works that reach to the ceiling, intruding visually on the intimacy of the action.

Popular on Variety

Private Lives

F. M. Kirby Shakespeare Theater, Madison, N.J.; 308 seats; $53 top

Production: A Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey presentation of a play in three acts by Noel Coward. Directed by Paul Mullins.

Creative: Set, James Wolk; costumes, Jacqueline Firkins; lighting, Michael Giannitti; sound, Steven L. Beckel; fight direction, Rick Sordelet; production stage manager, Amanda Michaels. Opened, reviewed Aug. 9, 2008. Runs through Aug. 31. Running time 2 HOURS, 20 MIN.

Cast: Sybil Chase - Charlotte Parry Elyot Chase - Scott Barrow Victor Prynne - Robert Gomes Amanda Prynne - Caralyn Kozlowski Louise - Mary Dierson

More Legit

  • David-Alan-Grier-Blair-Underwood

    David Alan Grier and Blair Underwood to Star in 'A Soldier's Play' on Broadway

    David Alan Grier and Blair Underwood will star in a Broadway production of Pulitzer-Prize winning drama “A Soldier’s Play.” The play, written by Charles Fuller, is set in 1944 and follows a murder mystery centered around the death of black Sergeant Vernon C. Waters (played by Grier) who is found on a Louisiana army base. [...]

  • The Inheritance review

    'The Inheritance' Announces Broadway Cast

    After an Olivier-winning run in London, “The Inheritance” is gearing up for its Broadway debut. The two-part epic has set the cast for its transfer from the West End to the Great White Way. John Benjamin Hickey, Paul Hilton, Samuel H. Levine, Andrew Burnap and Kyle Soller are among the cast members reprising their roles [...]

  • Patrick Page, Amber Grey, Eva Noblezada,

    'Hadestown' Announces 2020 National Tour

    ‘Hadestown’, the eight-time Tony award winning Broadway musical, is set for a national tour in 2020. The show will stop in more than 30 cities including Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New Orleans, and more. The musical is a stage adaptation of the Greek myths of Orpheus and Eurydice and King Hades and his wife [...]

  • Jake Gyllenhaal

    Listen: Why Jake Gyllenhaal Is His 'Best Self' in the Theater

    Looking for the best possible version of Jake Gyllenhaal? You’ll find it onstage, according to the actor himself. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “I am my best self when I’m working in the theater,” Gyllenhaal said on the latest episode Stagecraft, Variety’s theater podcast, on which he appeared with Carrie Cracknell, the director of [...]

  • Photo: Jeremy Daniel

    'The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical' Gets Broadway Run

    “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical” is Broadway bound. The musical adaptation of the franchise about a teenager who discovers he’s the son of Poseidon hits the Great White Way on Sept. 20 ahead of an Oct. 16 opening night. It comes on the heels of an extensive, nationwide tour that took the show [...]

  • Tom Sturridge Jake Gyllenhaal

    Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge Celebrate 'Sea Wall/A Life' With Star-Studded Opening Night

    A star-studded audience looked on as Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge returned to the stage for their double monologue performance in “Sea Wall/A Life.” Theater-goers and celebs including Anne Hathaway, Tom Hiddleston and John Mulaney gathered in Manhattan’s Hudson Theatre for opening night, celebrating a show tackling grief, birth and death through the eyes of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content