Saturday, 1 October 2011

A Perfect Pairing. . .

Caught a wonderful production of Private Lives at the Royal Alexandra Theatre this week, directed by Richard Eyre.  This is one of my favourite plays and I've seen a couple of other Canadian productions, all good in their varying interpretations.  Brian Bedford played a very world-weary Elyot in 2001 at Stratford against a sophisticated Seana McKenna.  I adored a CanStage production a few years before that with Albert Schultz (very bemused) up against a deliciously sleek and snarling Brenda Robbins - I still remember her arm coming out of the pile of cushions at the start of the second act and the use of a fountain on the famous balcony scene was a splendid touch. 

I equally loved this pairing of Paul Gross and Kim Cattrall. Gross was a sexy, impatient and exasperated Elyot, almost Cary Grant-like, which was perfectly matched to Cattrall's Amanda, alternating cool blondness with raging physicality.  And let's face it - she looked amazing in those sleek gowns and even just wrapped in a towel.  The set was creative and original, especially in the second act, with its interesting use of circular and goldfish motifs and the actors really used the space well and to comic effect.  I think actors in a Coward play often rush through the text, but not these two who found interesting intonations in the words, thus allowing me to listen to very familiar lines as if they were completely fresh.  Great supporting work from Anna Madeley as Sybil (one of my pet peeves with this play is Sybil is often far too shrill - not in this production) and Simon Paisley Day as Victor (again, not played as a caricature, just an ordinary man completely unable to understand Amanda's vibrant personality). A few accent slips now and then, but a thoroughly enjoyable production.  It's on until the end of October and well worth the ticket price!

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