Their lives may be private but the joy is ours

Ever wonder what it would be like bumping into an ex you split up with on terms that may hardly be referred to as amicable? Imagine that happening on a honeymoon with your new beau. Five minutes after checking in at the same hotel, into two rooms with adjoining balconies… That’s exactly the beginning of Private Lives by Noel Coward, currently on at London’s Gielgud Theatre. If you are expecting a horror story, fear not. Instead, you’ll get two hours of ‘comic bliss’ (The Daily Telegraph). Two hours of wonderfully written banter, bickering and punchlines. You’ll also get to see some real punches at the end of the second act, when the story reaches it climax.

Anna Chancellor (Amanda), whom I best remember for her performance as Duckface in Four Weddings and a Funeral, shines on stage. She fools us at first as a sophisticated lady who lunches (although ‘drinks’ is probably a more appropriate choice of wording), soon revealing her true self of a wild cat, hissing and scratching when things don’t go her way. Toby Stephens, the unforgettable villain Gustav Graves in Die Another Day, creates a fascinatingly expressive portrayal of Elyot, Amanda’s divorced husband of five years. Both are superbly cast for the roles, creating a convincing and very enjoyable to watch couple, rekindling their (slightly mad) love for each other.

Private Lives runs until September 21st, 2013 at Gielgud Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London. Try to get there first thing in the morning for a chance to secure £10 tickets (limited number of top seats are released at 10am on the day of the performance). We did. For getting up early we got an extra bonus of watching the actors at arm’s length. A true privilege, when we talk first-class acting.