Private Lives: Marital storms and reruns at Kanata.

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Categories: Community Theatre

Very overrated, honeymoons — especially if you run into your ex-spouse on the adjoining balcony of the honeymoon hotel. Even more so when your stormy first marriage ended with an acrimonious divorce and the intensity of emotion is still simmering.

Noel Coward’s 1930 comedy of manners (bordering on farce) remains one of his most enduring and frequently performed works. The elegant society he depicts is merely the public face of tumultuous private lives, so eloquently presented in the clashing chemistry between Amanda and Elyot. Meanwhile, the new spouses, Victor and Sybil, exemplify how passionless marital relations would make life calmer/boring. (Private Lives is more than amusing froth. Below the surface is a warning not to settle for second best in relationships.)

In the Kanata Theatre production of Private Lives, directed by Susan Monaghan, the well-chosen cast handles the first act, with its mirrored conversations between the two pairs of newly weds, with precision and clarity.

In Act II, Ian Stauffer as Elyot and Beverley Brooks as Amanda are appropriately spirited, flipping between love and anger, joy and hatred. In Act III, when the abandoned spouses arrive to sort out the social mess, the production loses a little of its momentum as it degenerates into farce, but it is still entertaining.

Brooks delivers a carefully nuanced performance firmly based in knowledge of the Amanda-type of woman and her societal place (although occasional uncertainty about lines hampered her otherwise excellent performance during Saturday’s show).

Ian Stauffer is appropriately suave but might be even more effective if he reined the anger in a notch.

Don Mounteer as Victor and Shelley Jean Harrison as Sybil deliver the required controlled contrast as the stiff upper-lip gentleman and the proper, but slightly silly innocent and Joy Forbes handles her cameo of the French maid with ease.

Rom Frigon’s set, Alan Quirt’s lighting and Gerry Thompson’s sound and music by Noel Coward (of course) complete the ambience of a solid season opener.

Director: Susan Monaghan

Set: Rom Frigon

Lighting: Alan Quirt

Sound: Gerry Thompson

Costumes: Brenda Parr, Marilyn Valiquette, Eufron Williams

Cast:

Sybil…………………………………..Shelley Jean Harrison

Elyot…………………………………..Ian Stauffer

Victor………………………………….Don Mounteer

Amanda……………………………….Beverley Brooks

Louise…………………………………Joy Forbes


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