Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Private Lives by Noel Coward, Vaudeville Theatre, 26-Feb-2010 – Directed by Richard Eyre

It was with a creeping sense of dread that I anticipated Kim Cattrall's entrance and the inevitable brainless Broadway-inspired “Applause for the Star” that would interrupt the action. When this didn't happen I was in such a good mood that I started enjoying myself and almost failed to find any fault with this production. I'm not saying that the applause won't happen on other occasions I was just happy that it didn't happen on my watch. I might be wrong but I like actors to earn applause

Actually Kim Cattrall as Amanda, definitely earned applause and although the accent slipped on the odd vowel, she was pretty brilliant. She was relaxed, assured and with the exception of her first entrance in a towel and later in the scene swinging an agile naked leg over a chair back, she didn't seem to be trying to cash in on any Sex in the City (or even Porky's) notoriety.

Matthew MacFadyen as Elyot was also good and I couldn't help feeling echoes of Noel Coward in his performance. It was not an impersonation, which could well have been ghastly and the performance was nowhere near as mannered as Coward might have been. There was something more than the actor's tallness and enlarging forehead that seemed in a way, for me, to conjure the author.

Although there is a great deal of good chemistry between Cattrall and MacFadyen there was part of me that thought they each needed a more suitable sparring partner. I'm not going to admit that I thought of this in terms of age at the time, I was sitting far enough back not to be able to see any age difference. I think the slight mismatch (and it is slight if not entirely imagined by me) may be more about acting styles not quite coming together.

There is excellent support from Lisa Dillon and Simon Paisley Day as the abandoned spouses. Day also mangled his vowels but for comic effect and oddly seemed to be suffering from some kind of shell-shock towards the end of the last act. It sort of fitted his character and age but it was rather sudden.

I'd like to finish by mentioning the Paris apartment set which is circular and furnished with low circular or curved divans, the requisite grand piano and a most excellent fish tank consisting of three interconnected globes.

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