Friday, November 18, 2011

Private Lives @ The Music Box Theatre

What happens when two former lovers, who are recently divorced, accidentally bump into each other on their honeymoons with their new spouses? And, toad to the drama, they are in the exact same hotel room, next door to each other! In Noel Coward’s Private Lives, Kim Cattrall (Sex in the City, Wild Honey) and Paul Gross(Sail Away) take the audience by storm and lock them in to watch this rollercoaster of a relationship.

Glamorous, rich, and reckless, Amanda (Kim Cattrall) and Elyot (Paul Gross) have been divorced from each other for five years. Now both are honeymooning with their new spouses in the South of France. When, by chance, they meet again because they just so happened to have rooms right next to each other. They end up meeting on their hotel balconies where their insatiable feelings for each other are immediately rekindled. They hurl themselves headlong into love and lust without a care for scandal, new partners or memories of what drove them apart in the first place...for a little while, anyway.

Gross is magnificent as a cad; handsome, dismissive, entitled and with a cowardly nasty streak that allows him to think it's just fine to slap around his wives, but won't fight back when a man challenges him. But, it's Cattrall, who starred in this in London before the production came here, who wows. Cattrall’s depiction of Amanda is sensual and stubborn, smart and brave. Just as Sybil was a product of her time, thinking she could manage through manipulation, so was Amanda, whose open-mindedness was hardly unknown during the Jazz Age. The two of them work very well together, had great comedic timing and had us believing they were in a screwed up relationship all these years. Simon Paisley Day is perfect as a stiff upper crust man and wonderfully dull as Amanda's significant other. Anna Madeley(The Philanthropist) is an incessant talker as Sybil, Elyot's new wife, driving the poor chap mad. All four actors came together and truly gave the performance of their lives. They all worked very well together, and were able to play off of each other in a way that felt very natural and real.

Although the acting talent was extraordinary, the technical aspect was less then exceptional. David Howe (The Norman Conquests, Primo) was responsible for the so called light design. Although the lights had the audience believing they were smack dab in the middle of a soap opera, the actors kept walking in and out of dark spot, taking the attention away from what was going on onstage. Rob Howell (Her Naked Skin, Buried Child) was wearing two hats during this production, scenic and costume design. Although the two of them went together very well, one seemed to have gotten more attention than the other. In this show there are two places where the actions happen, One, on a hotel balcony in France and the second in Amanda’s apartment in Paris. Amanda’s apartment was very well executed but seemed to appear too modern for the 1930’s and the hotel set had a ton of sight line issue. The biggest issue was the front balcony rail that obscured the faces of the actors if they sat down. Maybe these issues wouldn’t have been over looked if the designer only on one aspect of tech.

Private Lives is now playing at The Music Box theatre until December 31st 2011. If you don’t have a ticket, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR! You do not want to miss out on this awesome night of entertainment.

Review By: James Russo

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