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Private Lives (Methuen Modern Plays) (Modern Classics) [Paperback]

Noel Coward
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
Price: 9.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

13 April 2000 Modern Classics
One of Coward's best-loved classics in a single-play edition Coward's wit and precision as a modern dramatist is nowhere better exemplified than in this classic modern plays from 1930. Elyot Chase and Amanda Prynne (originally played by Gertrude Lawrence and Noel Coward), recently divorced from one another five years previously, arrive coincidentally at the same French hotel. They are honeymooning with their respective new spouses. Encountering one another by chance, each is at once horrified and fascinated by the other. Together they leave for Paris and begin a roundelay of quarrels and love intrigues that culminate in their getting back together.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Methuen Drama; New edition edition (13 April 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0413744906
  • ISBN-13: 978-0413744906
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 167,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


'Noel Coward's glittering gem' Sam Marlowe, The Times, 28.1.09 'The brilliance of Coward's conceit... is as sparkling as it ever was.' John Nathan, Jewish Chronicle, 30.1.09 'The play is marriage in three parts, but with better jokes and an interval.' Nina Caplan, Time Out London, 5.2.09 'In a word - go.' Dominic Cavendish, Daily Telegraph, 3.3.11

About the Author

Noel Coward made his name as a playwright with The Vortex (1924), in which he also appeared. His numerous other successful plays included Hay Fever, Private Lives, Design for Living, and Blithe Spirit. During the war he wrote screenplays such as Brief Encounter (1944) and This Happy Breed (1942). His volumes of verse, autobiography and letters have all been published to acclaim by Methuen Drama. Coward was knighted in 1970 and died three years later in Jamaica.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scofield and Routledge do right by Coward 10 Jun 2010
Format:Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Noel Coward's acerbic, celebrated tale of warring ex-lovers is an adaptable work. An MGM movie version in 1931, starring Robert Montgomery and Norma Shearer, toned down the bile. A recent West End reading, with Matthew MacFadyen and Kim Cattrall, ramped it up. Here the translation is ideal, as leads Paul Scofield (Best Actor Oscar winner for A Man for All Seasons) and Patricia Routledge (a regular collaborator with Alan Bennett, though also responsible for appalling sitcom Keeping Up Appearances) oscillate effortlessly between billing and cooing, and throwing tantrums.

Routledge is Amanda, who finds herself honeymooning next door to her former husband (Scofield), at a French Riviera hotel. He's newly-married too, but the spark between the pair is still there - so they decide there's only one thing to be done, and hotfoot it to her apartment in Paris. Their passion is underscored by a fiersome volatility, though, and it isn't long until the pair are at each other's throats.

Coward's script is stuffed with epigrams, epithets and very '30s zingers, and the delivery is a joy. It might take weary sitcom afficionados a little while to dispel the memory of Routledge's Hyacinth Bucket as her plummy tones drift out of the CD player, but she's unquestionably fine here.

I liked it a lot.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If there was only one Noel Coward play... 2 Jun 2001
By A Customer
"If he comes near me, I shall scream the place down!" proclaims Elyot Chase, who quite by chance meets his ex wife Amanda Prynne as they are both desperately trying to enjoy their second honeymoons, quite by chance, in adjacent bedrooms in France. Their respective spouses haven't realised stickiness of the situation, as Amanda and Elyot quickly rekindle their passion for each other and take off for Paris. The pipe smoking Victor Prynne and piano playing Sibyl Chase are left behind bewilderedly licking each other's wounds.
Elyot and Amanda's tense and volatile relationship swings violently from sickeningly loving to expertly aggresive in the course of their reunion. The somewhat lost and confused Sybil and Victor then arrive at Amanda's Paris flat, with reconciliation and living happily ever after set fast in their minds.
After each member in the menage a quatre almost trips over the maid, the vesuvius that is the situation erupts. Madness, near-violence, French, and plopping are all guarenteed.
Private Lives is Noel Coward at his best. Coward himself was very fond of this 'good little play' even if he did have to 'hit Larry Olivier on the head to get him to play Victor Prynne.' If you are looking for an introduction to the genius of Noel Coward's writing, then this is the best starting point. If an established Coward fan then this is a vital addition to your collection.
Read it, buy it, play it - it cannot be ignored!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely good version 25 Jun 2010
By emma who reads a lot TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Ah, this is beautifully done, and Routledge and Schofield have the BEST voices for the characters. Very, very enjoyable, and very light, and funny, and the perfect listen for a summer's drive.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sparkling! 27 May 2010
Format:Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This really brightened up a very dull couple of hours behind the steering wheel. Paul Scofield and Patricia Routledge are both wonderful as a pair of feuding former lovers reunited in the most awkward of circumstances. The pace of the plot is hectic, and the farce unravels without much time to pause for breath, but Coward's dialogue is so juicy that you're happily buffeted along by the whole witty whirlwind. It's surprisingly fresh, not remotely dated, and its comments on the battle of the sexes, love, life and relationships, are all still relevant and sharply observed. Great fun!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Someday I'll find you 17 May 2010
By Constant Reader TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"Someday I'll find you
Moonlight behind you
True to the dream I am dreaming"

"Strange how potent cheap music is" - Sir Noel Coward

Private Lives, now reissued on 2 CDs, is a bright and brittle comedy of manners, with some immortal lines which you may recognise even if you were previously unfamiliar with the play. Coward and his friend Gertie Lawrence took the lead parts in the original 30's staging and the music "Someday I'll find you" was composed by Coward for the stage play and is used here - its musical shorthand for anyone who remembers the play and instantly creates, for me at least. the droll, sophisticated atmosphere of Coward's 1930's bright young things.

Elyot and Amanda, having previously been married to each other, have new partners and by chance meet on the first night of their respective honeymoons. In the opening scenes it is clear that both are volatile characters and have settled for a less tempestuous relationship with someone steady, but unexciting.

Meeting again instantly rekindles their old attraction and sharply contrasts the fact that they have settled for dullness. They fairly quickly plan to escape together, although a return of their old bickering means that they have to invent a control word "Solomon Isaacs" that either can invoke for a cooling down period.

The scene then moves to Amanda's flat in Paris, "Solomon Isaacs" is quickly shortened to "Sollocks" for convenience and events become farcical as the two are pursued by their discarded spouses and fairly quickly revert to type.

Elyot and Amanda are played by Paul Schofield and Patricia Routledge.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic
I am a recent convert to both audio books and dramas. Once you get past 'Amanda' being Mrs Bucket it is great. It is an amusing little number. Read more
Published 7 months ago by A. Edwards
4.0 out of 5 stars Stylish and funny
This is an engaging treat. The story revolves around two couples: the sparkling Amanda on honeymoon with her stuffy husband Victor, who spots her first husband Elyot on honeymoon... Read more
Published on 4 April 2012 by R. Tait
4.0 out of 5 stars Private lives
I saw Hayfever in London, Haymarket Theatre, funny. So this is the same Playwrite. If you like plays and like Noel Cowerd this is good. Read more
Published on 15 Jun 2010 by Markerp3n
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but far from perfect
Being a fan of Coward and this play I couldn't resist this. I have to confess that while I enjoyed, I was a bit disappointed with it - Paul Scofield wasn't as good Elyot as I... Read more
Published on 10 Jun 2010 by Miguel M. Santos
4.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining
This 1930s relationship comedy isn't quite up to the dizzy heights of Oscar Wilde (in my view), but is very funny and contains some marvellously bitchy and incisive dialogue. Read more
Published on 28 April 2010 by S. Day
4.0 out of 5 stars Private Lives, Full cast BBC audio recording - A glimpse of another...
In this rather entertaining comedy of manners from the pen of the Master, Noel Coward, four interesting (yet somehow dull... Read more
Published on 22 April 2010 by Victor
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for me!
I love radio plays. I like some of Cowards work. I thought this was worth a try never having seen the play but aware of its fame and popularity. Read more
Published on 21 April 2010 by Wilz
4.0 out of 5 stars Mrs Bucket takes on Coward
Before Hyacinth Bucket, before Hetty Wainthrop, Patricia Routledge took on the challenge of bringing Coward's deliciously brittle Amanda alive in Private Lives. Read more
Published on 13 April 2010 by David Spanswick
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing.
This play really hasn't aged at all well. I can overlook the un-pc wife-beating as being a bit of a non-issue in the 30's, and the dialogue full of 'beasts' and 'cads' has,... Read more
Published on 13 April 2010 by RM/TM
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