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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "To hell with love.",, 4 Jan 2006
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
This farcical look at marriage, first produced in 1930, starred the author, Noel Coward, and the legendary Gertrude Lawrence. The play's recent revivals in London and New York, however, attest to its incisive wit and its razor-sharp social observation, both of which transcend the 1930s setting and give continuing life and relevance to the play.
Elyot Chase, five years divorced, has just married a young bride, Sybil, with whom he is on his honeymoon at a French seaside resort. His former wife, Amanda Prynne, has also just remarried, and, coincidentally, she and Victor, her new husband, are also honeymooning--in the room next door. Almost immediately, Elyot and Amanda rediscover each other on their adjoining balconies, find themselves drawn to each other, and abandon their new spouses at the resort to run away together to Paris.
The major action of the play shows us the relationship of Elyot and Amanda in Paris as they try to sustain their rekindled love and avoid the pitfalls that destroyed their original marriage. Both are passionate, uninhibited, live-in-the-moment people, and both have married very traditional, predictable, and conformist new spouses. When Sybil and Victor eventually discover the lovers, who, by now, are fighting and even engaging in fisticuffs, Coward makes his point about the nature of relationships, their fragility and/or what makes them endure.
Though the play is set in the 1930s, Coward so accurately captures human traits and behavior that the play is still delighting audiences today. In his opening scene, for example, he shows Sybil subjecting new husband Elyot to a mood-killing interrogation about his former wife. He then turns this scene on its head by showing Victor interrogating Amanda about her honeymoon with Elyot, showing the two new spouses to be identical to each other--and completely opposite to Elyot and Amanda. The scenes in Paris, in which Elyot and Amanda, their passion rekindled, try to keep their roiling anger under control are hilarious, and when they eventually resort to slapping and dish-throwing, the elegant verbal duels and clever repartee we have seen till now change the play into a more visually exciting and more farcical experience.
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Private Lives
Private Lives by Noel Coward (Paperback - 8 Dec 2010)
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