Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Review: Private Lives (UK Tour) at the Churchill Theatre Bromley

Private Lives (UK Tour) 
Churchill Theatre Bromley
Reviewed on Tuesday 19th January 2016

Marking my favourite Noel Coward playPrivate Lives is back with an all-new touring production directed by Tom Attenborough. The set up is one of pure genius; imagine you are in an explosive marriage, get divorced and then re-marry. However, whilst on your honeymoon you discover your ex-partner is staying in the hotel room next door... also on their honeymoon.

Ritchie & Chambers
To make matters more complicated, in Private Lives Elyot (Tom Chambers) and Amanda (Laura Rogers) decide to **spoiler alert** run off together after rediscovering their lust for one another. Coward's play is a masterpiece which continues to stand the test of time; the golden lines flow all evening whilst the characters remain surprisingly human.

Attenborough's production mostly captures Coward's spark; the opening balcony scene was paced well and had the audience in hysterics from the get-go. However, as the piece progressed the pace occasionally dipped and some comedy was lost. 

Despite taking to the stage with bucket loads of charm, Chambers' performance falls flat - I felt he was trying too hard, maybe he simply needs a little longer to find his feet. A short dance break has been added for the Strictly Come Dancing champion to show off some rather out-of-place yet slick dance moves. 

Rogers is a force of nature, battling her way through each scene whilst supporting cast members Charlotte Ritchie and Richard Teverson give good performances as Elyot and Amanda's new partners.

Rogers & Chambers

Elyot and Amanda have the most spectacular of arguments; verbally these are performed well, but the fight choreography is weak and needs to be worked on. At first the design looks a little flimsy; there is only one scene change which seemed to be delayed as members of the crew struggled to push two set pieces (the balconies) into the wings.

Whilst I enjoyed this production, I couldn't help but feel something was missing. I always try not to compare productions, but I couldn't help but think back to the 5* West End production starring Anna Chancellor and Toby Stephens which I adored in 2013. 

It is always a joy to see Private Lives; if you haven't seen the play before it is certainly worth catching when it comes to a theatre near you. 

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Private Lives runs at the Churchill Theatre Bromley until Saturday 23rd January 2016 before visiting Stoke, Brighton, Birmingham, Richmond, Glasgow, Torquay, Aylesbury and Bath. Please visit for further information, tour dates and tickets.

Photo Credit: Alastair Muir

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