Round up of reviews of PRIVATE LIVES starring Kim Cattrall at the Vaudeville Theatre in London
IN A NUTSHELL
GU: A classy revival, expertly staged by Richard Eyre… but, while it will give pleasure, the partnership of Kim Cattrall and Matthew Macfadyen as Amanda and Elyot never struck me as hatched in some ante-room of heaven.
TE: Richard Eyre’s terrific new production
TI: Thanks to him [Eyre] and his lead actors you can’t miss the play’s unassuming point and purpose.
ES: Noël Coward’s comedy calls for a mixture of turbulence and dry urbanity, and Richard Eyre’s finely calibrated production of Private Lives exhibits just the right blend of these qualities.
IN: Kim Cattrall and Matthew Macfadyen display an onstage chemistry that works like a volatile charm in Richard Eyre’s exhilaratingly funny revival of the Noel Coward comedy classic.
VA: The delights of flippancy are only intermittently on offer in Richard Eyre’s effortful revival. It’s not just the headline casting of Kim Cattrall as Amanda that overbalances this production.
DM: This is a gorgeous, glorious production of Private Lives, just bitchy enough to be modern, yet old-fashioned enough to have a three-part form.
ON KIM CATTRALL
IN: Right from the moment when Cattrall first appears on the hotel balcony clad only in a snowy white beach towel. With her tossed blonde curls and barbed flightiness, she’s a delight. …she’s got very good comic timing and demonstrates a winning flair for emotional slapstick.
GU: Cattrall, most famed for Sex and the City, is actually very good as Amanda… she brings out the inviolable selfhood that, for Coward, was a vital part of sexual attraction.
TE: Cattral is a vision to behold, at ease in her body, and miraculously combining vulnerability with sharp wit.
TI: At first I thought… [Cattrall] too free with the sort of fluttery vowels Marilyn Monroe might have have emitted were she attempting an English accent, [but] she combines allure with the mulishness of a woman who knows her own mind as well as her own body.
ES: Cattrall conveys an arch playfulness and a good deal of flighty yet vulnerable glamour. There’s warmth, too, albeit perhaps not quite enough of it.
VA: Cattrall is as elegant and feline as could be hoped for… But it requires too much effort for Cattrall to iron out her North American inflections and accent, making her voice — and thus her performance — high-pitched and, on occasion, forced.
DM: Actress Kim Cattrall almost completely sheds her identity as ‘that vamp from TV’s Sex And The City’… she produces a not quite faultless English accent. A few words such as ‘one’, ‘afterwards’, ‘going’ and ‘worry’ require attention, but as Elyot says in one of the play’s many memorable lines, ‘don’t quibble, Sibyl’.
ON MATTHEW MACFAYDEN
IN: Macfadyen is all the funnier for being so meatily masculine and solid a presence, with an accent that seems to mock its own port-wine plumminess in a manner that reminded me, at times, of Michael Gambon.
GU: There is a sanity about Macfadyen which doesn’t quite square with Elyot’s espousal of flippancy as a way of life.
TE: Matthew Macfadyen has more than a touch of the brutish bully about him.
TI: At first I thought him too aloof, even a bit sullen and stolid… But his wit has bite
ES: In the key roles, Kim Cattrall and Matthew Macfadyen have what might blithely be termed chemistry — though in fact it’s closer to particle physics, all energetic collisions and strong nuclear force.
DM: Mr Macfadyen resists any temptation to speak in a classic clipped Cowardese. He makes sense of the lines by using the sort of pouty tone of entitlement too often heard from today’s gilded 30-somethings.
VA: Macfadyen is an unusually weighty Elyot. But his unexpectedly baleful quality initially slows down the play’s pulse. He too warms up as the play progresses, but his rhythm only rarely seems in synch with Cattrall’s.
IN: Eyre’s splendid production alerts you anew to the fact that Private Lives is a dazzling feat of airborne comic dramaturgy.
GU: It is a clever, funny production that certainly hits the spot. Only the nagging perfectionist in me makes me feel there is even more to Amanda and Elyot… they never quite acquire the halo of specialness that for Coward was the justification for living.
TE: This production never quite attains the bruising passion that Lindsay Duncan and Alan Rickman brought to the play a few years ago, but it comes close.
ES: Although it begins on an unexpectedly passive note, this is a satisfying and intelligently conceived production. It’s fluent, very funny and at times dazzlingly well-acted.
VA: The play only truly comes to life in the scenes of physical comedy… Cattrall’s presence may pull crowds, but compared with past couplings as blissful as Abigail Thaw and Simon Robson, or Lindsay Duncan and Alan Rickman, these two are simply working too hard.
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