When you put Patricia Hodge and Nigel Havers on a stage together, you already know it’s going to be a great show.
Noel Coward’s Private Lives by the newly formed Nigel Havers Theatre Company does just that, and it’s everything you hoped it would be and more!
Set in the 1930s, the play tells the story of Elyot (played by Havers) and Amanda (played by Hodge) who were once married and find themselves in adjoining rooms at a French hotel with their new partners, with the unexpected happening and the couple reconnecting. Havers takes on the role taken by Noël Coward himself in the original production in 1930 with a Suaveness we’ve come to expect, the character being delightfully charming but also quite stubborn and obstinate.
Olivier Award winning actress Hodge is effortlessly glamorous and fun as the cynical ex-wife.
Natalie Walter and Dugald Bruce-Lockhart portray their respective new spouses, Sibyl and Victor, Aïcha Kossoko completes the cast as Louise the Maid, all three being very talented actors in their own right alongside Hodge and Havers.
This production has all the humour and frivolity one would expect from a Noel Coward penned play, but it also takes on a new dynamic in this production; the age of the couple portrayed for instance is almost double the age it was originally written for- this in my opinion actually works better and provides even more opportunities for humour. A particular scene on the sofa when ready for love-making is perfectly orchestrated and has the auditorium in fits of laughter.
Nigel Havers and Patricia Hodge are fabulous together, such chemistry and wit, the pair are both without doubt, household names and after seeing this captivating performance, I can see why. The pair take you on a rollercoaster of emotions and quickly move from one extreme to another, from well scripted dialogue to dancing and rages of destruction, it’s directed skilfully by Christopher Luscombe.
The stage and set pieces are well designed and work extremely well, the stage design by NAME helps plunge us into the era with elaborate hotel balconies featuring in the first act and a stunning recreation of an Art Deco Parisian apartment in the second half.
The script is funny and full of dry wit, the cast deliver throughout, and the staging is opulent and nostalgic – in short, it’s the perfect night at the theatre!
Verdict: The best incarnation of this play I’ve ever seen, Dazzling!
Playing until Saturday 19th February, further information and tickets can be found at https://thelowry.com/whats-on/private-lives/
Reviewer: Max Eden
Reviewed: 15th February 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★