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Saturday, October 26, 2019


(Steven Stead & Clare Mortimer. Pic by Val Adamson)

Don’t miss this if you like excellent and highly entertaining theatre! (Review by Caroline Smart)

KickstArt’s latest production is an unmissable top class presentation of Noel Coward’s classic romantic and sophisticated comedy, Private Lives. It has a short run until next weekend at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre.

The play was written nearly 90 years ago (in 1930) and premiered at the King's Theatre in Edinburgh. Coward was very friendly with the famous actress Gertrude Lawrence and decided to write the play as a vehicle for the pair of them. Private Lives has stood the test of time and the hilarious responses from last night’s opening performance proved that it still resonates today. It focuses on relationships – making them … and breaking them!

Directed by Steven Stead and Mervyn McMurtry, the play is stylish and elegant and features multi award-winning actors Stead and Clare Mortimer as well as Jessica Sole, Iain Robinson and Belinda Henwood.

(Left: Steven Stead & Jessica Sole. Pic by Val Adamson)

Stead and Mortimer handle the lion’s share of the play. They play Elyot and Amanda who were married and then broke up because of their continual fighting. They went on to marry again, unbeknown to each other: Elyot to Sibyl (Jessica Sole) and Amanda to Victor Prynne (Iain Robinson). The two couples decide to honeymoon in France, in Nice. Not only that, but in the same hotel - in adjoining rooms and, worse still, with adjoining balconies! And that’s when the fun starts!

The roles of Elyot and Amanda are extremely challenging, requiring a huge range of emotions, not to mention some blazing arguments and physical set-tos! While Elyot is sardonic and mocking, Amanda is a free spirit with her own ideas about how her life should be run. Effectively, these are two people who truly love each other despite their differences. Coward’s dialogue is witty, clever and very funny and Stead and Mortimer don’t miss a nuance or an effective pause. They are totally believable and put in excellent performances.

(Right: Clare Mortimer & Iain Robinson. Pic by Val Adamson)

Also putting in fine performances are Sole and Robinson. Sole is very funny as the naive Sibyl who is much younger than Elyot and has nowhere near enough life experience to cope with him! Robinson is solid as the pompous and stubborn Victor who flatly refuses to be dictated to by Amanda. They get their own chance to handle riotous arguments towards the delightful ending!

Belinda Henwood plays the French-speaking maid, Louise, who only appears in the final act but she is completely endearing in the short time she is on stage.

Greg King’s set is very clever, effectively presenting the outside of a hotel adorned with shrubs and hanging plants with the two balconies at the front of the stage. After interval, this is re-structured to become Amanda’s spacious living room in her flat.

Terrence Bray’s costumes are perfect for the period and I particularly liked Stead’s silk dressing gown! Tina le Roux’s lighting design is effective, as always.

Private Lives runs until November 3 at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre with performances from Tuesday to Saturday at 19h30 (matinees on Saturday at 14h30) and Sundays at 16h00. Book at Computicket: or phone 0861 915 8000.

Don’t miss this if you like excellent and highly entertaining theatre! – Caroline Smart