Noel Coward: Private Lives, Melbourne Theatre Company

by Jennifer Bryce

I was carried along pleasantly through Noel Coward’s beautifully written farce, hanging on every word of the brilliant dialogue. A divorced couple, while honeymooning with their new spouses, find themselves in adjacent hotel rooms. Their tempestuous love is rekindled. As with the latest film of The Great Gatsby, there was not a self conscious attempt to recreate the period (the play was written in the 1930s) – Syble’s clothes did, the music, on the whole, did not – although there was a period gramophone.  This is probably a good thing – the strength of the play is the witty dialogue, not the period setting. The stage set was perfect – a circular stage enabled the action to move almost seamlessly from external hotel or apartment balconies to interiors. The actors occasionally forgot their appropriately over-done English accents – especially when the action moved quickly. All were good, particularly Leon Ford as Elyot – but the best was the smallest part – the French maid!