With a solid cast and sparse design, Belvoir’s Private Lives is a crowd pleaser.
I really didn’t know what to expect going into this production, but I needn’t have worried: it had a vague sense of familiarity about it, a certain Belvoir style that I should’ve expected. Even though it’s a “style” that I have been quite partial to in the past, it’s starting to wear a bit thin on me, and doesn’t offer the surprises I want when I go to the theatre.
The thing about Noel Coward’s work is the delicious campiness of the language; in this production the lines were raced over as if the text was embarrassing and just to be gotten through. I missed the opportunity to relish the ‘cleverness’ of the text as well as the moments of romance.
As a result, the characters seemed two dimensional with little colour, and in the end I didn’t care too much for any of the characters. The exception was Victor Prynne (Toby Truslove), whose tight range and constraint of emotional colour worked for his character. Zoe Coombs Marr was a breath of fresh air and very funny as the French maid.
It’s a tight show for all that, one I’m sure the actors enjoy being a part of, and the audience on the whole certainly enjoyed it immensely. With regular hoots, the odd clap of joy, and a long final applause you will certainly have a fun night at the theatre.