Two pairs of British honeymooners embark on a luxurious beachside vacation without a care in the world…until their exes come into view. Then panic sets in.
Directed with vintage finesse by Diego Arciniegas, Gloucester Stage presents the amusing and at times hilarious romantic comedy, Private Lives live and in person at Gloucester Stage in Massachusetts through June 25. The show is presented in three acts and is approximately two hours with two intermissions. Click here for more information and for tickets.
Seeing an ex can be excruciating, embarrassing, and depending on the circumstances in which it ended, a resentful experience. Every individual is different, but unless one parts way in a resplendent and amicable manner resembling a typical Reese Witherspoon romantic comedy where everyone is cheerfully and most times unrealistically understanding, seeing an ex can take the wind out the sails and become a harrowing and at best, brief and awkward experience. During what should be the happiest time in these honeymooners’ lives, encountering a complicated ex can spell disaster.
Private Lives may be a bit outdated in some of its thinking, but the nature of love remains the same. It boasts Noel Coward’s snappy dialogue that resembles 1940 classic comedy His Girl Friday about ten years before that film existed. Set in the 1930s, Private Lives features gorgeous classic love songs designed by Eric Hamel and possesses the charm of times gone by including marvelous vintage couture and outdoor wear by Nia Safarr Banks and landline telephones back when no one could identify who was on the other end of the line until it was picked up. Refreshingly, not a cell phone in sight. Another bright facet of Private Lives is Izmir Ickbal’s elegant scenic design that matches the show’s pristine sophistication from matching French-style furniture and grand piano to a pristine marble patio, balustrades, and lush greenery.
Essentially though, it explores the good, the bad, and the ugly side of love. The patterns of falling in and out of love while learning from what went wrong. When it comes to love on a scale of when it’s good, it’s perfect, but when it becomes ugly, watch out.
Each character has an eloquent speaking style and sophistication in manner, tone, and behavior evident even in chatty, young, and impressionable Sibyl depicted with vigor and excitable humor by Serenity S’rae. S’rae as Sibyl is not to be underestimated and her scenes with Gunnar Manchester as Elyot are full of idealistic expectations. Manchester certainly has the charisma for it as brooding, mysterious and a gambler in every sense of the word Elyot. While his motives are often in question, Elyot is a fascinating sort that never walks blindly into a situation. Katie Croyle embodies headstrong Amanda with wit and cynicism, yet still idealistic about love and hoping she has outsmarted her past. Stephen Shore, who shares a passing resemblance to Matt Damon, depicts chatty, protective, yet heart on his sleeve Victor while Jennifer Bubriski portrays Louise, a comedic bystander in this situation with perfectly timed, deadpan one-liners. The cast have compelling chemistry as well as quick witted comedic timing. Each character also demonstrates various outlooks on love, but will it serve them well?
Energetic, tense, and with plenty of engaging physical and absurd humor, Private Lives is a smart, lighthearted, and hopeful romantic comedy about searching for love that is perfect in its imperfection.
Gloucester Stage presents the amusing and at times hilarious romantic comedy, Private Lives live and in person at Gloucester Stage in Massachusetts through June 25. The show is presented in three acts and is approximately two hours with two intermissions. Click here for more information and for tickets.