Private Lives

by Noël Coward

Directed by Nigel Martin

November 11th - 22nd, 2003

The Tower Theatre performing at Pentameters Theatre, Hampstead


Cast List

Sibyl Chase : Philippa Pearson
Elyot Chase, her husband : Ian Recordon
Victor Prynne : Ralph Ward
Amanda Prynne, his wife : Emmeline Winterbotham
Louise, a maid : Despina Sellar


Production Team

Director : Nigel Martin
Assistant Director : Dominic Batty
Set Design : Alan Wilkinson
Lighting Design : Hilary Allan
Costume Design : Nigel Martin
Sound : Laurence Tuerk

Stage Manager : Phyllis Spencer
ASMs : Nicolanne Cox, Neal Roberts, Denyse Macpherson, Andrew Craze
Lighting operator : Claire Rice
Sound operators : Laurence Tuerk, Pamela Towers
Piano played by : Jonathan Norris
Wardrobe : Nigel Martin, Noreen Spall
Set Construction and Rigging : Keith Syrett, Meryl Griffiths, Jill Batty, Sheila Burbidge, Celia Reynolds, Andy Peregrine, Sue Lacey, Keith Hill, Rob Myer, Terry Mathews, Warren Alexander & cast and crew
Additional Properties : Emmeline Winterbotham, Philippa Pearson, Michael Wilson, June Victor of Vintage Modes, Alfie's Antiques Market

Review by Julia Hickman for Theatreworld Internet Magazine

Noël Coward's comedy of the sexes erupts in a seismic explosion here at Pentameters Theatre. The ambience is pure 1930's but the attitude is timeless. This is a sparkling, sassy production from the wandering Tower Theatre Company, who are leaving a joyous commotion in their wake in their travels around North London, having recently left their long-time Islington home.

Elyot and Sibyl have just got married : honeymooning in a hotel on the French coast, they are looking forward to cocktails on their private balcony. Elyot has been married before and Sibyl just cannot help comparing herself to his ex, the fiery Amanda, whom Elyot is trying equally hard to forget. They go in to get changed and out pop, on the adjoining balcony, Victor with his brand new wife ... Amanda. Elyot and Amanda eventually encounter each other, alone together and the inevitable happens.

In the dim and thus forgiving light of their rediscovered passion, all bad things are forgotten and even when they fall back to their old habits, they use a new catch-phrase to stop the tempestuous squabbling which broke them up in the first place. So they really have changed, then.

Coward asks if we are destined to be bound to the same partner, or a clone of them, for the remainder of our days. A depressing thought if the relationship goes awry. Or can people really change, to enjoy a mature relationship with the same type of partner, or a relationship with a completely different one? Sparks, fists and cigarettes continue to fly however, as Elyot and Amanda alternate between turtle doves and screeching tom-cats. Emmeline Winterbotham is sultry and seductive as the selfish Amanda, and Ian Recordon is the perfect foil as a charming, easily sadistic Elyot.

What of the other two, the sweet Sibyl, played with a blend of innocence and suspicion by Philippa Pearson, and Ralph Ward's gentlemanly Victor? These two loose cannons, having found each other, could go off in any direction. The characters first struggle to hide, and then struggle to show, their true feelings. My feeling is that this play is spot-on.