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Private Lives UK Theatre Tour - Review

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Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
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Wit From Legendary Playwright Noel Coward
Legendary British playwright Noel Coward wrote this comedy of manners in just three days. It was fast work in creating a couple playing fast and loose with their hearts and new spouses.

Tom Chambers in the theatre tour of Private Lives, Holby City, Waterloo Road, Strictly, Top Hat
Tom Chambers and Laura Rogers star in the new theatre tour of Private Lives

Private Lives went on to become one of his greatest successes and that is undoubtedly due to the quick-witted one-liners and scathing, unabashed insults thrown between passionate ex-lovers Amanda and Elyot.

Set in the 1930s, this revival of the play recreates the decadence of that period in both the decor and the attitudes of its frivolous, crazy leading couple.

Tom Chambers (from TV shows Holby City and Waterloo Road and musical show Top Hat) plays half of the divorced couple, who are both married to other people when they meet on their new honeymoons and realise they are still in love.

Chambers plays Elyot in a goofy, madcap way opposite an exceptional Laura Rogers, from Tipping the Velvet, as his wild, unconventional ex-wife Amanda.

They are a realistic attractive pairing of the vicious couple who can't live and can't live without each other - and heartlessly dispatch their new spouses who have unintentionally got in their way.

Tom Chambers with Charlotte Ritchie as his new wife Sybil in the theatre tour of Private Lives, Holby City, Waterloo Road, Strictly, Top Hat
Witty and fast-paced, Private Lives returns to the stage in a UK tour

Bringing out the worst in each other, their best scene is the second act when their passion slowly leads up to a beautifully choreographed and hilarious fight. Funnily enough, it was this wonderfully crafted love scene that was nearly censored in Britain when first written as "too risqué".

Many a famous name has taken on the roles of Elyot and Amanda - Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor to name a few - and even Noel Coward played the role of Elyot himself.

In this version, Chambers plays Elyot for laughs, giving him an over the top carefree abandonment yet also a ruthless, mean streak. It's an entertaining performance.

While Coward didn't give spouses Sybil and Victor much to get their teeth into as mere puppets in the proceedings, they are handled well and given some depth by impressive Charlotte Ritchie (a well known face due to her role in Call the Midwife) and Richard Teverson, who appeared in Downton Abbey.

Tom Chambers with Charlotte Ritchie in the theatre tour of Private Lives, Holby City, Waterloo Road, Strictly, Top Hat
Private Lives is a comedy by Noel Coward starring Tom Chambers and Charlotte Ritchie

What's nice about this production is that it is very true to the essence of Coward's creation and feels like the screwball comedy films that enriched the 1930s cinemas.

Coward, whose other works included plays Hay Fever and Blithe Spirit along with film In Which We Serve, was also a songwriter and his song Some Day I'll Find You still features in a romantic singalong section at the piano.

It's a delightful, well crafted production and although it was slow to get going, the pace improved as it went on to provide an evening of decadence and wit straight from the 1930s.

Rating: 7/10

Private Lives - UK Theatre Tour
See the ATG theatre website for tickets.

Tickets cost from £15.40 - £41.40.

Birmingham - New Alexandra Theatre from February 8 to 13

Richmond Theatre near London from Feb 15 to 20

Theatre Royal in Glasgow from February 22 to 27

Princess Theatre in Torquay from February 29 to March 5

Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury from March 7 to 12

Theatre Royal in Bath from March 14 to 19.
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Why? See the wit and elegance of a Noel Coward play
When: touring until March 19, 2016
Phone: 0844 871 3011
Where: UK Tour including Birmingham's New Alexandra Theatre
Cost: From £15
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