Private Lives: Riotous British Bickering

Private Lives. Photo Michael Green Photography Private Lives. Photo Michael Green Photography

Private Lives is a riotous play about marital discord and two bickering British couples. Elliot and Amanda were married for three years, but after constant bickering and some physical abuse (Elliot apparently struck Amanda), they decided to divorce. Five years on and they are now on their honeymoons with their new spouses; Sybil and Victor respectively. While vacationing somewhere in the south of France, Elliot and Amanda out of the blue bump into each other.

Following this chance meeting, at first both Amanda and Elliot try to convince Victor and Sybil to leave immediately and head to Paris, hoping to escape the embarrassing and awkward encounter with their former spouses. However, when both Sybil and Victor refuse to do any such thing, the exes reconcile and find comfort in each other’s company, drinking cocktails, unbeknownst to their spouses.

Newly married and still exploring their new partnerships, this sudden encounter with their shared past brings back memories, and suddenly and rather dramatically rekindles their romance. Elliot and Amanda basically kiss and make up, confessing that they never stopped loving each other.

They decide to flee together. Without even informing their partners they head to Amanda’s flat in Paris and spend the next few days reconnecting and enjoying each other.

Private Lives. Photo Michael Green Photography

Private Lives. Photo Michael Green Photography

Amanda shows sporadic signs of remorse for having abandoned her new husband; however she proudly declares that she is unreliable, thus is merely being true to herself. Elliot for his part is completely unaffected by Sybil’s trauma at his sudden disappearance. Given their history of bickering, they decide on a code ‘Sollocks’ that they will blurt out so that they avoid a spiral of verbal tirades.

The historical first with this performance is the fact that the play reverses genders, with men playing women’s roles and vice-versa. The shrieking and youthfully excitable Sibyl is a show stealer, played by actor David Noel, while the confident femme fatale Amanda is played by Brett Watson. Mary Harvey plays the suave Elliot Chayse and Stephanie Buxton is the upright and logically inclined Victor.

As expected, Victor and Sybil walk in on their secret hideaway, where Elliot and Amanda are back to their vile and bickering ways. The four dabble between awkwardness, confusion and mixed love and emotions, and the cherry on the comic cake is the French maid Louise (actor Rahul Gandhi) who comes strutting in with the stereotypically rude French attitude, hurling snobbery on all the residents of the flat. She drops the breakfast tray in Elliot’s hands, when asked to clear the table and serve breakfast.

As Elliot and Amanda declare mutual hatred and Victor and Sybil are willing to give their lost spouses another chance at making it work, the location of the old Train Station turned Village Theatre in Hudson, with a robust and thrilled audience, added charm to the performance.

The play runs from August 10-28 the Hudson Village Theatre; 28 Rue Wharf, Hudson, Quebec. For tickets, click HERE.