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Witty play "Private Lives" like reality TV show

Jul 27 2009
Kevin D. Thompson | Palm Beach Post

The verdict: Strong performances from the two lead actors do Noel Coward proud in his timeless comedy about a divorced couple who still have the hots for each other. Lives, now playing at Palm Beach Dramaworks, is widely considered one of Coward’s funniest plays. The humor is biting and sharper than a Ginsu knife. But what’s even more impressive is that the show has stood the test of time and doesn’t feel dated even though it was written nearly 80 years ago. Relationship drama, after all, never really goes out of style. The eye-catching sets by Michael Amico will almost have you feeling like you’re lounging on a luxurious terrace in The City of Love. For a play like Lives, a combustible chemistry between the lead actors is imperative... Fortunately Harmon and Strong have it under J. Barry Lewis’ careful direction. Whether they’re calling each other "idiotic" and "boorish" or wrapping their arms around one another in a tender embrace, you instantly believe you’re watching a couple with a long--and often painful--history. Harmon, with his natty suits and elegant demeanor, is rakishly handsome and charming as Eloyt. Strong (talk about an appropriate surname), is every bit his equal and is hardly anyone’s shrinking violet. Their verbal wordplay is fun to watch. Coward wrote Lives in only four days, but it has survived and entertained theatergoers around the world for eight decades.