Private Lives

Private Lives
By Noël Coward. Eltham Little Theatre (Vic). Director: Susan Rundle. Eltham Performing Arts Centre. August 25 – September 10, 2011.

Noël Coward’s 1930 comedy of manners tells the story of Amanda and Elyot, divorced and newly remarried to new partners, who find themselves honeymooning in adjacent hotel apartments, and on their neighbouring balconies.

One can imagine what this could lead to! And it does.

ELT’s opening set, adjoining Mediterranean hotel balconies, and the second, an apartment in Paris, captured the period particularly well. Exquisite costuming also evoked the era, with ladies’ hairdos giving that added touch.

Gabrielle Llewelyn Slater gave a wonderful performance as Amanda Prynne, the divorcee on her honeymoon with the new husband, capturing the innuendoes of the period. In a few violent scenes, she gave as good as she got, but your correspondent fears she may be a little sore by the end of the season.

As her ex, Elyot Chase, G. Deiter Kunze gave a fair interpretation but he mumbled a little and could have been a little more sophisticated. Nevertheless he provided a good balance to Salter, with whom he shared a good rapport.

Gemma Porter portrayed Sybil Chase, Elyot’s puzzled new bride with aplomb and sharing some good scenes with Andrew McNess, also a little violent toward the end of the play.

Andrew McNess gave a comfortable performance as Amanda’s new husband, clearly capturing the bewildered state of a husband whose new bride wanted to leave the hotel on their wedding night.

Finally, in the small but vital role of Louise, the French maid, who did not approve of the goings on, Sarah Louis had a great command of French, sounding like a native and speaking very rapidly. This added to the atmosphere and the success of the evening.

Peter Kemp

Photo: Andrew McNess who plays Victor and Gemma Porter who plays Sybil. Photographer: Ian Clark of Studio Imagery

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