Private Lives by Noel Coward
Vaudeville Theatre WC2
TLT’s little buggy almost felt bereft of an ivory cigarette holder taped to the exhaust after watching an early preview of Noel Coward’s elegantly brittle 1930 comedy. Elyot and Amanda, flip cut-glass socialites, are on their honeymoon in France – only with their spouses, simpering Sybil and uptight Victor, rather than each other. After meeting accidentally, they realize, although divorced, they must rekindle their relationship, however stormy and scandalous. This is TLT’s first foray into Coward territory, a stylised yet tremendously funny treat in this finely-judged production, beautifully lit with atmospheric set design by Rob Howell. Kim Cattrell’s porcelain Amanda builds charmingly in pathos and comedy as the play progresses sparking with Matthew Macfadyen who gives an inspired endearing vulnerability to his barbed teddy bear of an Elyot. Meanwhile Lisa Dillon and Simon Paisley Day create a sympathetic romance and more than hold their own as Sybil and Victor, allowing the audience to root for them as a couple alongside the warring and almost fatally attracted protagonists. And with overall spot-on timing (including a suitably French French maid played by Caroline Lena Olsson) and a modern “how will it all end?” feel to tear away any gauzy rose-coloured expections, TLT gives this production a green light as sparkly as an emerald.