Private Lives

by Noël Coward

19th – 21st March 1964

Private Lives is a 1930 comedy of manners in three acts by Noël Coward. It focuses on a divorced couple who discover that they are honeymooning with their new spouses in neighbouring rooms at the same hotel. Despite a perpetually stormy relationship, they realise that they still have feelings for each other. Its second act love scene was nearly censored in Britain as too risqué.

private lives

Newbury Weekly News review

Private Lives was a triumph for Compton Players

An unlikely chance, that a once married couple should each re-marry and choose exactly the same time and place for their honeymoon. Nevertheless, this was the theme which provided Noel Coward with the plot for his play Private Lives, which was presented in Compton Village Hall this week by the Compton Players.

With only four main characters, it gave Beryl Braidley, Marion Wellstead, Peter Monger and Michael Yates ample opportunity to show their capabilities. Beryl Braidley used every ounce of her own imagination to portray the part of Amanda – whimsical, illogical, fraught with jealousy yet at the same time perfectly charming. Playing his part equally well and greatly improved since his first appearance in amateur theatricals, was Michael Yates as Elyot, conveying his thoughts not only by the spoken word but by clever facial expressions. On many occasions a faint mystical smile conveyed a wealth of meaning.

Somehow Peter monger never quite captures a part completely, but nevertheless his portrayal of Victor was good and much hard work was in evidence. His lines were well and clearly spoken, but the contrast of character with Elyot could have been made more convincing. Marion Wellstead, like Beryl Braidley, has become a well-known figure among the Compton Players and regular supporters have come to expect something great of her. This time, however, I feel she falls just short of the mark.

Kate Bailey’s interpretation of a French maid who believes all Englishmen “idiots” was delightful and despite her brief appearance, the impression she made was a lasting one.
With a word-perfect cast, the talents of all combined for a fast-moving, humorous, effective piece of light entertainment interwoven with the moments of passion and suspense.

More often than not, plays selected by such groups necessarily have to be confined to a simple stage set, but this time the Compton Players excelled themselves and produced two superb sets in one evening. The play opened on the terrace of a gay little pension with its neat green shutters and trailing ivy, while the second scene was transformed, with very little apparent disturbance to the flat in Paris, complete with delicately draped windows and chandelier.

As usual the girls provided an excellent wardrobe and particularly eye-catching and appropriate was Beryl Braidley’s “Greta Garbo” hat, which she wore to perfection.
Whether the cast of the play numbers five or 50 still of equal importance are all those connected behind the scenes, and special thanks go to producer Frank Meakins, stage manager J Dolan, O Brown (lighting), A Palmer (seating), F Anderson and M Holmes (props and effects) and V Meakins (make-up).