Review of Private Lives, Ambassadors Theatre, London (2023)

A Sparkling Revival: Havers and Hodge Shine in This Timeless Classic

The 2023 revival of Noël Coward’s “Private Lives” at London’s Ambassadors Theatre, directed by Christopher Luscombe, was a delightful return to the roots of classic British comedy. 

This production, starring Nigel Havers as Elyot and Patricia Hodge as Amanda, breathed new life into Coward’s witty and sophisticated script, proving that the play’s charm and humor are truly timeless.

Stellar Casting and Chemistry

Nigel Havers, as Elyot, delivered a performance that was both suave and sardonic, embodying the quintessential Coward gentleman with a modern twist. 

Opposite him, Patricia Hodge’s Amanda was a revelation. Her portrayal was a perfect blend of elegance, wit, and complexity, making Amanda not just a figure of glamour but also a character of depth and resilience. 

The chemistry between Havers and Hodge was palpable, turning their verbal sparring into a captivating dance of words and emotions.

The supporting actors, playing the new spouses, provided the perfect foil to the leads, adding layers of comedy and drama.

A Set That Transports You

The set design was a visual delight. It elegantly shifted from the stylish French hotel balcony to an equally chic Paris apartment, encapsulating the glamour of the era. The attention to detail in the set not only anchored the play in its time period but also added to the overall aesthetic experience.

The Magic of Coward’s Writing

From the opening scene, Coward’s sharp, witty dialogue crackled through the air. The play’s exploration of love, passion, and the complexities of relationships is as relevant today as it was in the 1930s.

Direction and Pace: A Delicate Balancing Act

Christopher Luscombe’s direction struck a delicate balance between honoring the original script and infusing it with a fresh perspective. The pacing was brisk, keeping the audience engaged throughout while allowing the actors to explore the emotional depth and complexity of Coward’s characters.

A Night to Remember

“Private Lives” was an unforgettable experience. It was a perfect blend of stellar acting, brilliant writing, exquisite set design, and thoughtful direction. This production breathed new life into Coward’s work, making it accessible and enjoyable for a modern audience while staying true to the spirit of the original.

Details of the Play for Fellow Theatre Lovers: