If Bolton Octagon’s new artistic director, Elizabeth Newman wanted to give us a good impression of what to expect when she takes over from David Thacker in July, she did an excellent job with this production of Noel Coward’s most famous play.
Private Lives brilliantly brings to life the decadence and frivolity of of a 1930s upper class. The play is directed by the Octagon’s current associate director Elizabeth Newman, the theatre’s next artistic director, who has recently received various Manchester Theatre Award nominations for all of her 2014/15 plays.
And it is easy to see why there have been so many accolades after watching this latest production. The play is paced perfectly and strong performances by the four protagonists and an equally impressive cameo from the maid, makes for a fabulously enjoyable evening.
Elyot Chase (Harry Long) is blissfully enjoying his honeymoon with his second wife Sybil (Jessica Baglow) in the south of France. By co-incidence Elyot’s ex-wife Amanda,Fiona Hampton is also on honeymoon with her new husband , Victor (Nial Cositgan), not just in the same hotel but in adjoining room. This is the starting point for Noel Coward’s perfectly constructed, sophisticated comedy, featuring the biting and witty dialogue for which he is so justly renowned.
There is a perfect interplay between these characters and the fact that we come to care about them despite their obvious flaws is great tribute to the way this most iconic of Coward’s creations has been revived.