BWW Review: Reboot Theater's PRIVATE LIVES Very Witty, Slightly Wonky

BWW Review: Reboot Theater's PRIVATE LIVES Very Witty, Slightly Wonky
Isis Phoenix and Kit Lascher in
"Private Lives"
Photo credit: Jeff Carpenter

Elyot (Kit Lascher) and Sybil (Alysha Curry) are on honeymoon in the French Riviera. It's 1930. They're sipping cocktails, calling each other "dahling" in that quintessential, leftover-from-Britain way of speaking. Sybil has already mentioned Elyot's ex wife, Amanda, but Elyot reassures Sybil that she has nothing to worry about.

But of course she does, especially considering that Amanda and her newly betrothed, Victor, are honeymooning right next door. The first act wastes no time firing off joke after joke in this tightly wound comedy of manners. Fate has pushed Amanda and Elyot back together, whether they like it or not (certainly Victor and Sybil don't).

Director Jasmine Joshue cast a crew of real entertainers for this production of Noel Coward's "Private Lives." As Elyot, Kit Lascher has a flippant neurosis. Other times, they are pompous and crude. Isis Phoenix as Amanda is seductive, and has a manipulative energy to compliment Elliot's entitled dapperness. These two have organic chemistry. Alysha Curry's Sybil is young and fretful, and a polished comedian. As Victor, Jesse Calixto is refined, dutiful, and a bit oblivious.

1930s aesthetics are expensive and specific, and I commend costumer Sarah Walsh for providing the cast with all of the right bobbles, broaches and smoking jackets to suspend disbelief. However, Elyot's smoking jacket reveals what looks a lot like sports bra, which feels entirely anachronistic. That was an odd choice.

The funniest parts were when all four characters are together. The bulk of the comedy comes from the awkwardness and the tension, so without Sybil and/or Victor present to generate said tension, Amanda and Elyot are just two lusty people talking in circles about their relationship.

This creates odd pacing in the production. Act I had seamless comedic timing. It was bright, energetic, playful, and suspenseful. The fun, roller coaster of Act I came to a screaming halt in Act II as Elyot and Amanda idle in a stew of memories. They bicker in circles about the inevitable demise of their relationship, too wrapped up in what their marriage was to focus on what their relationship could be. Amanda even comments about how their conversation is boring. Comparatively, I would agree, in that it is much less amusing. If the conversation was meant to drag on purpose, it feels incongruous with the very punchy Act I. But even at their sleepiest, Elyot and Amanda Make a steamy couple.

This production showcases fabulous comedic talent. Even Kit Lascher noticeably suppressed laughter when a glass broke on stage. Audience members will guffaw at the buffoonery amidst all of the pomp and prissiness. "Private Lives" is a very fun show. It's a shame that the energy dips in Act II, but once Sybil and Victor return, about halfway through, the show finds it comedic footing again. Despite the pacing issues, I give Reboot Theater's "Private Lives" a side-split 4/5 stars. Pip pip!

"Private Lives" performs at Slate Theater through May 20, 2017. For tickets and information, visit them online at www.reboottheatre.org.

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From This Author Amelia Reynolds

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