Private Lives Review - International City Theatre

The International City Theatre opened its season in Long Beach Aug. 27th with a witty play called “Private Lives” by Noel Coward.

Directed by Luke Yankee and produced by Caryn Desai this production charms the audience for many reasons:

1) It’s set in 1930’is Britain and is with its colorful costumes and period make-up and hair a visually delightful.

2) The British accent and the elaborate use of language seem not only to humor the audience but also occasionally challenging for the actors but no worries, it makes the whole performance more interesting and the actors more real.

3) The witty writing and plot: Elyot and Amanda don’t seem to be able to escape from each other. After a passionate but turbulent marriage followed by an ugly divorce they find themselves with their new spouses in the South of France not realizing they ended up spending their honeymoons in the same hotel.

Amanda’s new husband Victor adores her and seems much more tolerant than Elyot who in turn also seems more charmed by his younger wife Sibyl. Entering a new period of his life with Sibyl after a few years of traveling the world Victor is enjoying his brandy when he spots Amanda across the table at the balcony of their hotel.

Besieging his new wife to leave immediately without giving her an explanation sets off an equal panic in Amanda who foresees impending disaster and begs Victor to leave with her at once.

Both unsuccessful in their quest to flee each other they end up on the balcony rehashing their turbulent marriage over a couple of drinks only to find themselves still undeniably drawn to each other.

Despite constant quarrels and uncontrollable bickering they decide to give their relationship another try and impulsively escape to Paris into the moonlight, leaving both of their spouses wondering of their where abouts and meeting each other on the balcony of the hotel.

Enjoying their reunion in Amanda’s flat in Paris for a couple of days, the couple seems to fall right back into their old habits, quarrelling and spitting venom at each other. Before they know it they are on the floor at each other’s throat when their new spouses enter the scene.

Avoiding the “obvious” question:” their intentions” both Amanda and Elyot end up pleading for forgiveness making Victor and Sibyl more upset and eventually watching them sliding down the etiquette latter fighting over their spouses. For Elyot and Amanda the exit cue: They make up and elope once more.

This is a witty story about privileged adults behaving badly.

Coward, a remarkable and prolific writer, who wrote dozens of plays, films and songs, explores social rituals by which people present themselves through their “ public” lives only to reveal their “ private” and twisted passions that lie beneath a veneer of etiquette and responsibility.

A wonderful cast consisting of theatre actors Jennice Butler (Sibyl), Freddy Douglas (Elyot Chase), Caroline Kingsolving (Amanda) and Adam J. Smith (Victor) proves that there is still a small classically trained group of actors in L.A. who are maybe more versatile and fascinating to watch on stage than any young to-date film+ TV actors in Hollywood.

Freddy Douglas as Elyot brings an old world charm with sophisticated behavior alive and impresses with a flawless accent. Adam J. Smith as Victor incorporates a bit of corniness into his character and embodies the perfect 1930is gentleman. Jennice Butler brings the role Sibyl with  a bit of kookiness alive and Caroline Kingsolving bathes in the hysteria and passion of her character Amanda with an impressive and impulsive use of British English.

Private Lives runs Aug.26th-Sept 18th. Tickets are $37-44.


More information at  

International City Theatre is located at 300 EA Ocean blvd., Long Beach. For tickets please call the Box office:562 463-4610



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