BWW Reviews: Classic Theatre Stages Riotously Funny PRIVATE LIVES
Let's hear it for couples who should never have coupled in the first place. I know, it's terrible to toast to the misfortunes of others, but if it weren't for that sorry lot who loathe each other more than they love each other, Private Lives might never have come into existence. The wickedly funny Noel Coward comedy is still as rib-tickling and honest as it was 85 years ago, and The Classic Theatre's production of it is near perfection.
The comedy, perhaps Coward's most famous, centers on a middle-aged divorced couple, Elyot (Wade Young) and Amanda (Anna Gangai). Both have recently remarried. Elyot has taken the younger Sybil (Christina Casella) as his wife, while Amanda has married the similarly younger Victor (Guy Schaafs). Both couples are blissfully happy during their honeymoon until Elyot and Amanda realize that they are, in fact, honeymooning at the same hotel and in adjacent rooms.
Under Tim Hedgepeth's direction, every element of the comedy is sublime. The relationships between the quartet of characters are completely defined, the upper-crust English accents are honest and believable, and even the implausible premise regarding the adjacent hotel rooms feels authentic. But most importantly, Hedgepeth knows how to direct comedy and social satire in a way that makes every joke land without forcing it to do so. Each laugh comes organically from the dialogue and situations, and Hedgepeth lets Coward's brilliant characters and text do the heavy lifting.
But it's Hedgepeth's keen eye for casting that must be greatly applauded. His cast could not be more suited for their roles. Schaafs and Casella are both wonderfully innocent and pure as Victor and Sybil, and they each find moments to show their character's insecurities regarding being spouse #2.
But Coward's text favors the characters of Elyot and Amanda, and Wade Young and Anna Gangai are extraordinary. There's an easy, debonair quality about Young which brings Elyot's wit and charm to the forefront, and Gangai is exceedingly elegant and glamorous. It's a joy to watch the pair as there's certainly a chemistry between Young and Gangai.
Of course some chemicals, when combined, cause a violent explosion. That explosion is deliriously fun to watch, too.
For more information on The Classic Theatre, please visit www.classictheatre.org