Private Lives – a Noel Coward classic
Private Lives is the kind of show that Heartbreak productions do best! Heartbreak Productions fast and frothy version of Noel Coward’s comedy of manners sashayed into Newcastle this week. My favourite outdoor theatre company takes up residence in our lovely Jesmond Dene with this 1930 classic followed by a super multi media updated Romeo and Juliet as you’ve never seen it before!
The framing concept for the show – which is a specialty of Heartbreak Shows are the French staff of L’Hotel Crevecoeur who are trying to encourage proper manners from their wayward guests! We, the audience are always included in the fun, and as usual regular Heartbreakers come prepared with refreshments, outdoor gear and a tipple or two to help enjoy the performance!
Private Lives – marriage mix up
The story concerns a divorced couple Amanda and Elyot, who are honeymooning with their new spouses. They discover that they are staying in adjacent rooms at the same hotel. Despite having previously had a terribly stormy relationship, they find themselves still attracted to each other.
After going to great lengths to avoid each other in the hotel, inevitably they meet up again. They discover that their previous spark is still very much alive. Their new spouses seem dull by comparison and the couple disappear together and resume their passionate liaison.
The heights of passion are celebrated by the two as they reconcile, but things quickly become rather heated. Jealousy and anger boil over and the couple end up having a bit of a ding dong. Things become rather physical too. Love and hate can be so very close to each other.
Private Lives – a cracking cast
Abigail Castleton a Heartbreak regular, is spot on as Amanda. She captures perfectly the selfish reasoning of a woman in love, while being completely aware of her own shallow nature and its drawbacks. Amanda is really the star of the whole show, and Abigail creates her captivating, if rather unreliable character, perfectly.
The rest of the young cast are new to Heartbreak Productions and they throw themselves into their performances with aplomb. Alexander Gordon as Elyot was suitably arch and effete. He also had some very nice pyjamas. Jason Ryall was the hapless dull Victor and Bethany Down the innocent young bride of the faithless Elyot.
Heartbreak’s Private Lives is fast furious and fun and Coward’s sparkling dialogue remains irresistible. While on the surface it seems a light hearted, romp there is more to the play than that. Underneath the veneer of civilisation there is a biting satire on love, marriage, passion and infidelity. In the end, against the odds, the marriages prevail and the transgressors are forgiven despite abandoning their partners on their honeymoon to run off with someone else!
Private Lives – on tour this summer
Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the show, for me this is Heartbreak at their best. With outdoor theatre you do have to expect the unexpected though! A random Alsation jumped onto the stage at one point and joined in for a little while. The cast took it in their stride and incorporated him into the action. His owner slunk onto the stage to retrieve him looking very embarrassed. It was hilarious!
Private Lives is touring the country all summer so if you missed it in Newcastle you can find it in another charming outdoor venue – just go to www.heartbreakproductions.co.uk and check out the other stops on the tour!