Private Lives on display
at Kanata Theatre

Comedy driven by war between
men, women waged through love

Bill Horsman, Kanata Theatre

EMC entertainment - The moon is shining, music is playing and romance is in the air.

Elyot Chase is beginning his honeymoon, but he's having trouble maintaining the mood. Problem is, he has married again, five years after his divorce. And his lovelyyoung bride, Sybil, simply won't stop asking irritating questions about his first wife, Amanda.

But it gets worse.

It turns out that Amanda has also remarried and she and her new husband, Victor Prynne, have just arrived at the same seaside hotel for their honeymoon.

In the next room no less, with an adjoining balcony.

Elyot and Amanda are mortified to discover each other on their balconies and are desperate to leave, concocting preposterous excuses, but their new spouses stubbornly refuse to interrupt their honeymoons.

This awkward and embarrassing encounter sets the tone for the romantic comedy, Private Lives, which opens Kanata Theatre's 2012-13 season on Sept. 18.

Written by Noel Coward, this fast-paced comedy is driven by the war between men and women, waged through love, marriage and divorce. The dialogue crackles with Coward's trademark flamboyant wit, barbed repartee and flippant disregard for social conventions, particularly marriage.

Private Lives has long been a favourite of theatre goers everywhere.

Originally staged in 1930, with Coward in the role of Elyot, it has been presented in London and on Broadway many times over the years.

A 1983 version starred Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.

At other times Tallulah Bankhead and Maggie Smith have each played Amanda.

Most recently, in 2011, Paul Gross and Kim Catrall starred in a revival of the play in Toronto and New York.

As well, in 1931, it was made into a movie with Norma Shearer and, in 1976, a TV version with Penelope Keith as an unforgettable Amanda.

The Kanata Theatre presentation, directed by Susan Monaghan, will feature Bev Brooks as Amanda, Ian Stauffer as Elyot, Don Mounteer as Victor, Shelley Harrison as Sybil and Joy Forbes as Louise, the French maid.

Recriminations, regrets and romance are on the menu and are sure to provide an evening of delectable entertainment.

Private Lives runs Tuesdays through Saturdays at the Ron Maslin Playhouse, on 1 Ron Maslin Way, Sept. 18 to 22 and Sept. 25 to 29. For more information, visit the Kanata Theatre website at

For tickets, call the box office at 613-831-4435 or email

The cast rehearse for Noel Coward's Private Lives, the first play of Kanata Theatre's 2012-13 season, which will open on Sept. 18. From left, Don Mounteer, Bev Brooks and Joy Forbes.

Private Lives explores
controversial topics

Carolyn Johnstone, Kanata Theatre

EMC entertainment - Kanata Theatre is taking a step back in time once again to fan a new breath of sparkling life into Noel Coward's comedy, Private Lives.

Set in Europe around about 1930, Private Lives takes us back to that sepia-toned era where the social norms were clear and simple and understood by all.

It was a time when boundaries were clear and unbreakable; when society's expectations were often the deciding factors in even the most personal decisions; and when one's ability to behave exquisitely for others was far more valued than what one might dare to think or feel beneath the surface.

The cast has immersed themselves in this moment of a different era, "putting it on, and wearing it," to get to the heart of Coward's intent.

And while the story takes you under its spell, some interesting differences between then and now come through.

For example, the topic of divorce is central, and while once the stuff of shame and societal downfall, today's audience has no reason to gasp at the idea.

Instead, our comfort zones will be far more shocked by all the cigarette smoking.

In fact, our present day view of smoking had the producers combing the script to find ways to remove those darned cigarettes, but they're actually referenced in the lines so often that it wasn't possible.

Not to worry, though - they'll look like real cigarettes, and they'll seem like real cigarettes, and they'll even act like real cigarettes, but they're not real cigarettes.


The story spins out with matchless charm, wit, repartee, and laugh-out-loud humour that, through the chemistry, energy, and conviction of the incredible cast changes that sepia hue of 80 years ago to a spectrum of light and colour that will keep you watching, listening, and laughing until long after the curtain falls.

Private Lives runs Tuesdays through Saturdays at the Ron Maslin Playhouse, on Terry Fox Drive, Sept. 18 to 22 and Sept. 25 to 29. For more information, visit the Kanata Theatre website at For tickets call the box office at 613-831-4435 or email BoxOffice@ KanataTheatre. com.

The cast of Kanata Theatre's Private Lives have immersed themselves in another era to portray the stiffness and restraint of the 1930s, as portrayed by the play's writer, Noel Coward.