Skip to main content

Private Lives

Ambassadors Theatre

West Street, London WC2H 9ND 0333 009 6690

Ambassadors Theatre banner
  • Synopsis
  • Theatremonkey show opinion
  • Reader reviews
  • Performance schedule
  • Ticket prices

Ends 25th November 2023.

Five years after splitting up, divorcees Amanda and Elyot fall in love all over again...

A brittle Noel Coward comedy of manners with Nigel Havers and Patricia Hodge.

Casting details are given for information only. cannot be responsible for the non-appearance of any performer.

(seen at the afternoon preview performance on 7th September 2023)

This 2021 Theatre Royal Bath production is considerably more sedate and traditional than the rambunctious Donmar Warehouse affair of April 2023.

Proving that sometimes considerably less is far more, Christoper Luscombe trusts The Master’s brittle-seeming lines to reveal their spoken strength in the hands of well-chosen actors; rather than feel a need as Michael Longhurst did to add layers of brutal physicality and contemporary timing which ultimately distracted from, rather than emphasised, already clear points.

Casting around two decades older than usual adds verisimilitude to the worldly weight of combined experience between the two couples.

Nigel Havers is almost born to play Elyot. If not quite adopting 1930s staccato speech patterns (the monkey would love a production which does, please), his diction still has the refined English edge which make the hottest arguments sound coolly reasonable.

His Sibyl (Natalie Walter) is younger and, frankly, hot stuff herself. Considerably brighter than usually played, her independence adds greatly to the usually slightly deflated Golden Arrow exit of the third act.

On the other (beautifully realised by Simon Higlett) balcony, Dugald Bruce-Lockhart has Victor as the antithesis of Elyot. Solid and without bluster, Bruce-Lockhart seizes the opportunity to remain the virtuous calibrator of the piece. There is no doubt who would win the fist-fight either, and he would win also the comedy timing double-act prize alongside Havers after the bell.

Special mention must go to Hilary Tones, substituting at just two hours’ notice for absent Patricia Hodge. Without benefit of setting foot on that stage until a quick run through that afternoon before playing before us, she required just two minor prompts and delivered an Amanda to be proud of. 

Not only a harridan as Elyot casts her, but a confident free-thinking lady with strong opinions delivered with beautiful clarity - and a way with record-breaking (one for the Palladium panto to add for their Niiigeell this year, fight director Ken McCurdy assisting), she also delivered on Jenny Arnold’s choreography as if it were her hundredth rather than first performance.

It is lush, bright as Mark Jonathan’s sunlit Deauville and Higlett’s vision of a purple Paris apartment (Monkey calls dibs on the hanging light fitting), timeless as Nigel Hess’s choices of Noel Coward tunes from three musicians.

Perfect for a London autumn, a mirthful mirthless quagmire of inventive relationships stands the test of time once again in the West End.

The monkey advises checking performance times on your tickets and that performances are happening as scheduled, before travelling.

Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm
Thursday and Saturday at 2.30pm and 7.30pm

Runs 2 hours approximately, including one interval.

Theatres use "dynamic pricing." Seat prices change according to demand for a particular performance. Prices below were compiled as booking originally opened. Current prices are advised at time of enquiry.

Ambassadors Theatre prices seating plan

RUSH TICKETS: App Todaytix are offering £25 "Rush tickets," located at venue discretion, for all performances. Released for the performance on that day, first-come, first-served. Download the App from Todaytix.  

Back To Top