The Hillsboro Argus reviews our final show of the 13-14 Season: Noel Coward’s PRIVATE LIVES!
The same passion that fuels intense love can also fire incredible anger. And the two extremes are barely a synapse from one another in Noel Coward’s “Private Lives.”
The dark, romantic drama, presented by Bag&Baggage, opens Friday, May 9, and plays through May 30 in Hillsboro’s historic Venetian Theatre. It’s the story of four people with too much money, too much time, and too much self-involvement. The restored theater is reminiscient of the type of venue that the Depression era cast would find familiar.
Director Scott Palmer cast Adam Syron and Chrissy Kelly-Pettit in the lead roles as the currently divorced Elyot Chase and Amanda Pryne.
For the dynamic Syron, the role is his swan song at Bag&Baggage. He’s been a popular performer, appearing in six of the company’s shows in the past two seasons, but is leaving to pursue an advanced degree at the Birmingham City University in England.
His work as Elyot Chase shows why he will be missed. Paired with Kelly-Pettit, the two of them sparked on stage as ex-lovers who find it as difficult to live with one another as it is to live apart.
They love and hate in equal measure and they do it so quickly and with such slight provocation that sometimes it is hard to keep track of which emotion they are showing.
Their performance was complimented by those of resident actors Arianne Jacques and Gary Strong.
Jacques plays Sibyl, Elyot’s self-absorbed new bride who is looking for a comfortable marriage to a husband who thrives on making himself and everyone around him uncomfortable. She is everything Amanda is not.
Amanda also has a new husband, the blustering yet solicitous Victor Pryne, ably played by Strong.
The only relief to the soulless quad of characters comes from the too-brief appearances of Theresa Park, the not-what-you-imagine French maid Louise, who has to clean up after the dueling couples, shaking her head and chewing them out in French. I have no idea what she said, but she said it convincingly.
If there is a problem with this show, it is how the story has aged. In the 1930s, Coward gave theater patrons a glimpse into the lives of the idle rich that few people outside that social circle seldom viewed. Today, thanks to the voyeurism of the media, the proliferation of the Internet and the growth of the “look at me” posturing of people being famous for simply being famous, there is no such thing as a private life. What was once an intriguing window on the financially well off, but morally bankrupt, has now simply becomes disturbingly common.
“Private Lives” will be at the Venetian Theatre, 253 E. Main St., in Hillsboro through May 30. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, and 2 p.m. on Sundays.