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Noël Coward’s "Private Lives" Stars Kim Cattrall and Paul Gross at The Music Box

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Duncan C. Weldon & Paul Elliott
Theatre Royal Bath
et al.

Noël Coward’s
Private Lives
(Private Lives Website)

Kim Cattrall and Paul Gross

Simon Paisley Day, Anna Madeley
Caroline Lena Olsson

Directed by Richard Eyre

The Music Box
239 West 45th Street
A Shubert Organization Theatre

Set & Costume Design: Rob Howell
Lighting Design: David Howe
Music Supervisor/Composer: Matthew Scott
Assoc. Director: Anna Ledwich
Sound Design UK: Jason Barnes
Sound Design US: Chris Cronin
Fight Director: Alison de Burgh
Movement Director: Scarlett Mackmin
Production Manager: Patrick Molony
Technical Supervision: Juniper Street Productions
Press Representatives: Boneau/Bryan-Brown
General Management: Alan Wasser/Allan Williams
Mark Shacket

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 20, 2011 Matinee

What a delight to see Kim Cattrall up close, partnered as if in a theatrical fox trot with Paul Gross, as Amanda and Elyot, divorcés, who literally reunite on a sumptuous balcony in Deauville, overlooking the audience, which is the view of the coast and upper-crust yachts. Noël Coward’s Private Lives, first produced in 1930, is all champagne and swell silk pajamas, polite laughter and romantic wrestling, the raucous sort, that is. Two couples are booked into an elegant hotel, with side-by-side balconies, whose privacy is protected by a few potted palms. When Elyot arrives on his honeymoon with second wife, Sybil (Anna Madeley), it’s easy to discern that chemistry is at low levels. Their marriage seems more suited for convenience than connubial bliss. On the other balcony are Amanda and Victor (Simon Paisley Day), with Amanda almost as vivacious as Ms. Cattrall’s Samantha, her “Sex and the City” character, and Victor as ardent as ice.

But, of course, many in the audience have seen this play before, or at least surmise the upcoming mixed marital antics, so it’s so delicious to watch these antics unfold. Acts II and III take place in Amanda’s Paris apartment, with the most mesmerizing lampstand I’ve ever seen, fashioned from live fishbowls, as goldfish swim through tubes and circles. As one might gather, Amanda and Elyot can’t resist their longstanding chemistry, out there on the moonlit balcony, no matter the bouts of sarcasm and sass. So, when Sybil and Victor have both gone wandering, Amanda and Elyot skip off for a Parisian tryst. Naturally, Victor and Sybil couple up as well, but these are just details. What’s significant in this Richard Eyre-directed production, first presented by Britain’s Theatre Royal Bath, is the compelling level of high comedy, compared to low comedy, which would be trite. The audience was consistently entertained.

The four lead characters, all shifting spouses, maintain a modicum of decorum and eloquent repartee, even when lunging for a throat or dancing around a bed. The fifth character, the French maid, Louise (Caroline Lena Olsson), infuses further psychic energy and vaudevillian verve to the mayhem. But, in the end, the audience retains a memorable image of Kim Cattrall, whose Amanda is one of the finest drawn comedic characters on stage right now. She’s confident, comely, classy, and charming. She coos, cavorts, cuddles, and crosses swords, but all in the art of seduction. Ms. Cattrall seizes the stage and transports the imagination. Rob Howell’s wistful, sleek set and costumes are almost as emblazoned in the mind as Ms. Cattrall’s Amanda. David Howe’s lighting takes us from plein air to posh apartment. Matthew Scott’s music and Chris Cronin’s sound are pitch perfect. Kudos to Noël Coward.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at