Stars explained

* A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane

Half stars fall between the ratings


Two's company, four’s a farce

Private Lives

Highbury Theatre Centre


IT’S nice timing as autumn strikes, following a fine British summer, that The Highbury players should offer up Private Lives by Noel Coward, a witty inspection of newlyweds and divorcees Honeymooning in late August in the heat of the South of France.

Of course it’s not as simple as that as two of the newlyweds were once married and now unbeknownst to everyone involved, have arrived one evening at the same hotel and worse still been placed in adjacent rooms.

Edward Hockin and Joanne Richards play Elyot Chase and Amanda Prynne, who are a recently  divorced couple, and have separated more out of frustration than anger as their relationships was and seems still is, a wild and passionate one, but one that swings into bouts of temper and quarrelling.

Each of them has found more comfortable and sedate pairings. Elyot has married the much younger and inexperienced Sibyl played by Izzy Richards who although pretty is more a trophy than a life partner.

Amanda has snared the respectable but very straight Victor played by David Weller who promises to be a devoted husband set on making his wife happy.

When Elyot and Amanda meet again their passion ignites once more and they elope leaving their spouses to pick up the broken threads.

Coward’s take on the whole situation is a casual  ` so what ‘ regardless of any wrong doing and caring little for the consequences of the couples’ actions or the turmoil they leave behind. He concentrates more on the bitterness and underlying jealousy that rears its head under the veneer of the playful well- to- do.

The majority of the play is a series of Duologues over three acts. Edward Hockin was the most committed to his character and revelled in the camp gesturings of a handsome cad travelling the world and reflecting on his romantic conquests. He also captured the audience with his performance on the piano and singing.  He was equally matched by Izzy Richards as his naïve and needy bride.

Joanne Richards as Amanda handled her role well but clearly held back at times when the manic passion between her and Elyot was needed. David Weller was a solid Victor but again could have lost the control a little more when it was needed.

Praise goes finally to Sandra Haynes as the maid Louise delivering a fair amount of her dialogue in French all be it with a slight Brummie twang.

Playing romantic liaisons in an amateur setting is always a challenge but I am confident this production will find a little more extra fire as the week goes on. To 01-11-14

Jeff Grant


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