Nigel Havers and Patricia Hodge will star in a new touring production of Noël Coward’s Private Lives.
Directed by Christopher Luscombe, the comedy follows a divorced couple who, while honeymooning with their new spouses, discover they are staying in adjacent rooms at the same hotel. Their initial horror quickly evaporates and soon they’re sharing cocktails and a romantic serenade.
Coward wrote and starred in the play in his thirties and as such, the play has generally been performed by younger actors, but a universal love story about a couple who can’t live together and can’t live apart, certainly doesn’t preclude actors in their lates sixties and early seventies from taking on the role. Havers and Hodge will play feuding hedonists and former spouses Elyot Chase and Amanda Prynne.
Natalie Walter (Pack of Lies) will play Elyot’s new wife Sybil with Dugald Bruce-Lockhart (The Last Temptation of Boris Johnson) to play the role of Victor, Amanda’s husband.
The show opens in Bath on 1 October 2020, and will then visit Norwich, Cheltenham, Newcastle, Cambridge, Richmond, Malvern and Leeds, with further dates to be announced.
Produced by David Pugh and Theatre Royal Bath, the production is the first show in Haver’s new theatre company The Nigel Havers Theatre Company.
David Pugh said: “Nigel Havers is one of the biggest stars who likes to tour and in the past we have had some incredibly successful partnerships, from [Yasmina Reza’s play] Art through to Frank McGuinness’s adaption of Rebecca.
“My suggestion last year to Nigel to form the Nigel Havers Theatre Company was met with a wry smile, but he warmed to the idea and finally agreed that he would take 18 weeks out each year to tour a play, ‘as long as the play is entertaining and, most importantly, ticket prices are accessible to as many people as possible’.”
Pugh added: “Little did we know last year that this now seems to be more important than ever and, when we are allowed again to safely open theatres, we have to realise theatre can no longer be the luxury item it so often is; theatre should be able to be seen by and be for everybody.”
The production has set and costume designs by Simon Higlett, lighting design by Tim Mitchell and casting by Sarah Bird.