Private Lives

Previewed 22 June 2013, Opened 3 July 2013, Closed 21 September 2013 at the Gielgud Theatre in London

A major revival of Noel Coward's classic comedy Private Lives starring Toby Stephens and Anna Chancellor and directed by Jonathan Kent.

Having divorced five years ago, Elyot and Amanda are aghast to find themselves sharing adjacent suites whilst both honeymooning with their new spouses. But nostalgia,music and moonlight soon enflame old passions and they find themselves flirting with disaster in this comic masterpiece of modern love and second chances.

"I think very few people are completely normal really, deep down in their private lives" Set in France in the late 1920s and first performed in 1930 by Noel Coward himself, with Gertrude Lawrence and Laurence Olivier, Private Lives remains one of Coward's wittiest and most popular comedies that proves that over 80 years Coward still has the power to thrill, provoke and delight modern audiences. This stage production comes into London's West End following a successful run at the Minerva Theatre at the Chichester Festival Theatre in East Sussex from September to October 2012.

The cast for this production of Private Lives in London features Toby Stephens as 'Elyot Chase' and Anna Chancellor as 'Amanda Prynne' along with Anthony Calf as 'Victor Prynne' and Anna-Louise Plowman as 'Sibyl Chase'. It is directed by Jonathan Kent with choreography by Denni Sayers, designs by Anthony Ward, lighting by Mark Henderson, sound by Paul Groothuis, music by Matthew Scott and fights by Paul Benzing.

Toby Stephens' West End credits include Tom Stoppard's play The Real Thing (Old Vic Theatre 2010) and William Wycherley's comedy The Country Wife directed by Jonathan Kent (Haymarket Theatre 2007). Anna Chancellor London theatre credits include, most recently, the Terence Rattigan's The Browning Version and David Hare's The South Downs 'double-bill' (Harold Pinter Theatre 2012). Jonathan Kent's recent London stage directing credits include the Stephen Sondheim musical Sweeney Todd starring Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton (Adelphi Theatre 2012), Edward Bond's The Sea starring Eileen Atkins, David Haig and Marcia Warren (Haymarket Theatre 2008), Marguerite the new musical starring Rithie Henshall and written by Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg, Michel Legrand and Herbert Kretzmer based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas (Haymarket Theatre 2008) and Luigi Pirandello's As You Desire Me starring Kristin Scott Thomas and Bob Hoskins (Playhouse Theatre 2005).

"Jonathan Kent's scintillating and sexy revival of Noël Coward's sharpest, most piercing portrait of a marriage drains every word of its comic and dramatic potential. And at such a lick that it's done and dusted in less than two blissfully funny hours. The casting is perfect. Chancellor's voluptuous, vivacious Amanda is as untameable and passionate as her unruly red mop of hair. She towers over her ex-husband, Elyot, another redhead (Toby Stephens). The well-sculpted, dishy Stephens, so like his mother Maggie Smith, is hugely attractive but wittier and warmer than the flippant smoothie that Elyot so often is... The show belongs to Chancellor and Stephens in the most scorchingly sexy, intensely connected performances in London." The Mail on Sunday

"This exquisite comedy about a couple who can't live with each other but can't live without each other is all about the pairing. Noel Coward wrote it for himself and Gertrude Lawrence, where the chemistry may not have been sexual but it certainly fizzed. Another production starred real-life husband and wife Maggie Smith and Robert Stephens, who had divorced by the time it went to Broadway so he dropped out. This crackling revival, directed by Jonathan Kent and transferring from Chichester, stars the latter couple's son in the best performance I've seen him give. Toby Stephens has never been a charming actor - the curl of his lip is too sneery for that. But his natural swagger and air of rakish superiority are perfect for the caddish Elyot Chase, who turns up on honeymoon in Deauville to find his ex-wife Amanda doing exactly the same thing across the balcony... In Anna Chancellor he has the perfect opposite number... These two are amoral, ruthless and utterly made for each other... Cantering along at just two hours on Anthony Ward's glorious sets the production takes the drama's darker undercurrents briskly in its stride." The Daily Express

"The casting is just about paradisiac: Anna Chancellor and Toby Stephens are superbly matched as the two principals in Noël Coward's most perfect confection. Moreish and sponge-cake-light, the comedy conceals razor blades, and the leads locate the hurt hidden at its core... When Chancellor and Stephens are lolling around in their pyjamas on Anthony Ward's art-deco set, you don't want the night to end." The Sunday Times (Chichester 2012)

Private Lives in London at the Gielgud Theatre previewed from 22 June 2013, opened on 3 July 2013 and closed on 21 September 2013

Kim Cattrall and Matthew Macfadyen in Private Lives 2010

Previewed 24 February 2010, Opened 3 March 2010, Closed 1 May 2010 at theVaudeville Theatre in London

A major revival of Noel Coward's comedy Private Lives in London starring Kim Cattrall and Matthew Macfadyen and directed by Richard Eyre.

Set in France in the late 1920s, the plot centres around divorcees Amanda and Elyot, who are honeymooning in the same hotel with their new spouses. Their chance meeting reminds them of why they fell in love, but also why they couldn't live together...

The cast for Private Lives in London features Kim Cattrall as 'Amanda' and Matthew Macfadyen as 'Elyot' along with Lisa Dillon as 'Sybil' and Simon Paisley Day as 'Victor' and is directed by Richard Eyre. Kim Cattrall's recent London theatre credits include Sir Peter Hall's revival of Brian Clark's play Whose Life is it Anyway? (Harold Pinter Theatre 2005). Richard Eyre's recent West ENd theatre directing credits include Simon Gray'sThe Last Cigarette (Trafalgar Studios 2009), Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler (Duke of York's Theatre 2005) and the stage musical Mary Poppins (Prince Edward Theatre 2004).

"Coward's miraculously constructed Private Lives is a stunning succession of stiletto-pointed retorts that should be learnt by heart so as never to be lost for a perfectly formed snap, with added crackle and pop. Richard Eyre's fresh, funny, occasionally ferocious revival has us hearing them hilariously a new: 'She had the nastiest looking [long pause] hairbrush I have ever seen.' This is Coward firing on all cylinders, vicious sparks flying... Kim Cattrall, gorgeously glamorous in a gold gown, is Cowardesque to a nearly perfectly annunciated tee, a rare achievement for an American (even one born in Liverpool). Matthew Macfadyen is anything but. Jowly, with hair as short as a squaddie and vowels more jam-jar than cut-glass, in his silk pyjamas he looks rugger player chunky. In other words, he has much more muscle and far less silkiness than your regular Elyot. But as a result, this character's inner thug emerges to the full... The jilted spouses couldn't be better. Simon Paisley Day's prissy, pipesucking Victor is such a stickler for form that even when driven into a state of neurasthenic twitchiness and camping in a stranger's drawing room, he presses his trousers overnight in the lid of the grand piano. Lisa Dillon's Sybil is prettily pert and perfectly priggish on the outside, but that sweet centre is actually pure poison. Delicious." The Mail on Sunday

"This production has a rather workmanlike, repertory company feel to it. But it just about works thanks to some good humoured if not especially sophisticated playing from its stars Matthew Macfadyen and Kim Cattrall... It is, of course, one of the Master's most-quoted works and the problem with words that have become quite so familiar is that unless they are delivered with some panache or, at least, meticulous care, they start to sound camp and arch. Here they do mostly sound camp and arch, but nothing, it seems, can ever obscure how beautifully written and structured a play this is and what a devastating critique it amounts to of relationships. The play may have sparkled a lot more in the past, but it remains a gem." The Sunday Telegraph

Private Lives in London at the Vaudeville Theatre previewed from 24 February 2010, opened on 3 March 2010 and closed on 1 May 2010.

Private Lives with Alan Rickman and Lindsay Duncan 2001

Previewed 21 September, Opened 4 October 2001, Closed 3 March 2002 at the Noel Coward Theatre

Starring Alan Rickman and Lindsay Duncan with Emma Fielding and Adam Godley. Directed by Howard Davies.

"[Lindsay Duncan and Alan Rickman] are revelatory. To watch their body language at every point is to believe the intimacy and experience that this Amanda and this Elyot share. And to hear them is better yet. They're revelatory because they've dared to reconceive that whole genre of performance style known as Noel Coward style. Coward without camp!... Duncan and Rickman, however, play it for real... A bravissimo to Howard Davies for reconceiving Coward so gloriously, and another to Coward for being so beautifully reinterpretable. Just what the West End needs right now. Look back in laughter." The Financial Times

"Howard Davies’s production, though often amusing, is relatively so downbeat that maybe it’s intentional. Here’s the elegiac tale of two people who have spent five years apart, made emotional compromises, feel rather older... [Alan Rickman and Lindsay Duncan] don’t make us feel, as they must, that the one thing they find harder than living apart is living together... Rickman in particular finds excitement hard to generate nowadays... Duncan fares better, but not a lot. Her Amanda, it seems, is a woman who has made up her mind to settle for second best, only to find an old emotional addiction or allergy uncomfortably stirring... But let me add that last night’s audience laughed often and even applauded Tim Hatley’s hotel balcony and posh-Paris sets. They at least were full-bodied enough to deserve it." The Times

"Noel Coward's miraculously constructed comedy, Private Lives, as I've never seen it. No period posturing with cigarette holders, no cut-glass accents, no skidding across a shiny, scintillating surface, but deep, penetrating insight into the relationship between middleaged lovers who can't live together and can't live apart. Lindsay Duncan and Alan Rickman are sensationally good as Amanda and Elyot, the divorced couple who meet on the balcony of the hotel where each is honeymooning with a new spouse. The electricity which crackled between these two in Les Liaisons Dangereuses is here more highly charged, more explosive than ever. Now older, sexier, more sophisticated, more subtle, under the assured direction of the great Howard Davies, they shake all the artifice from Coward's familiar lines and bring the play to fiery, funny, profoundly felt, startlingly spontaneous life... Emma Fielding and Adam Godley provide the perfect complement as the starchy, dull and decent new spouses. A brilliantly lit, powerfully illuminating, definitive revival. Book immediately." The Mail on Sunday

Private Lives in London at the Noel Coward Theatre previewed from 21 September 2001, opened on 4 October 2001 and closed on 3 March 2002