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'Private Lives' a witty, pleasant summer tonic

Jul 20 2009
Hap Erstein | Palm Beach ArtsPaper

Perhaps as important as romance to a successful relationship is a well-matched pair of witty bickerers. And maybe that is as good a definition of love as you could hope to find. At least that is the philosophy of Noel Coward in his 1930 classic comedy, Private Lives, now receiving a robust, satisfying production at Palm Beach Dramaworks... Director J. Barry Lewis's cast is strong where it needs to be, with the dapper Wynn Harmon and the regal Caroline Strong as Elyot Chase and Amanda Prynne... As they caress Coward's brittle wit, it quickly becomes clear that Harmon and Strong's Elyot and Amanda are made for each other, Eventually, of course, new spouses Sybil (Katherine Michelle Tanner) and Victor (Cliff Burgess) show up at the Paris flat, hoping to straighten matters out, but only convincing Elyot, Amanda and us further what meager mates they would make... The reason Private Lives is perennially revived is Coward's well-polished dialogue, which offers a glimpse at how the upper crust misbehaves behind closed doors. Add in a couple of accomplished performers like Harmon and Strong and you have a summertime tonic, further proof of Coward's talent to amuse.