Private Lives is a razor sharp omedy with a dark underside which centres on estranged couple Amanda and Elyot, who can’t live together and can’t live apart. When they discover they are honeymooning in the same hotel with their new spouses, they not only fall in love all over again, they learn to hate each other all over again. Fireworks fly as each character yearns desperately for love.
Written in 1929, Private Lives is one of Coward most successful comedies. It was first staged at Hampstead in 1962, bringing about a renaissance in the playwright’s career and establishing Hampstead as a prominent new theatre for London, three years after it was founded in 1959.
This revival of Private Lives is staged as part of Hampstead’s 50th anniversary season, which revives a successful play from each decade of the theatre’s history.
Private Lives is directed by Lucy Bailey, whose recent productions of Timon Of Athens and Titus Andronicus were hits at Shakespeare’s Globe. She has previously directed Coward’s Tonight At 8.30 at Chichester Festival Theatre.
Coward’s numerous plays include Hay Fever, Easy Virtue (which has just been adapted for the big screen), Design For Living, Present Laughter, Blithe Spirit and Relative Values.
For more about Private Lives at the Hampstead theatre, read the First Night Feature.