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Private Lives
a Comedy
by Noel Coward

COMPANY : Stage Door Players [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Stage Door Players [WEBSITE]
ID# 4673

SHOWING : January 16, 2015 - February 08, 2015



A comedy of manners and marriage, ex-lovers Amanda Prynne and Elyot Chase find themselves both honeymooning with their new spouses at the same hotel in France, old resentments quickly fan the fires of an old flame. Always lively, Coward’s script is filled to the brim with clever barbs and witty retorts as Amanda and Elyot bounce back and forth between a state of passionate infatuation and ferocious hostility.

Director Robert Egizio
Sibyl Chase Rachel Garner
Elyot Chase Mark Kincaid
Amanda Prynne Tess Malis Kincaid
Louise Dina Shadwell
Victor Prynne J. Joe Sykes
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Privet Lives
by playgoer
Friday, January 23, 2015
Noel Coward’s brittle comedy "Private Lives" requires a light touch and arch delivery to bring out the comedy inherent in the story of a divorced couple who find that their love has not gone away after five years, with the unfortunate timing of finding this out on the first night of their honeymoons with their new spouses. Stage Door Players gets it mostly right. The casting of real-life married couple Tess Malis Kincaid and Mark Kincaid as the divorced-but-still-in-love couple might seem like stunt casting on first sight, but they’re both more than able actors and don’t stoop to any in-jokes to make their onstage relationship come to life.

In the performance I saw, there were still some opening-weekend line stumbles and lack of fluidity that will undoubtedly disappear as the run continues. My major concern is with sightlines. There’s usually not a bad seat in the house at Stage Door Players, but this production has actors putting their backs to half the audience for sometimes long periods of time. At the act break, two characters inside an opening door couldn’t be seen by a large portion of the audience.

Chuck Welcome’s set is part of the problem. Don’t get me wrong -- it’s a lovely set, as always, with a design that allows a seamless transition from the opening scene’s balcony to an apartment in Paris -- but it’s done on a diagonal that turns the usual corner stage setup to be closer to a proscenium setup. Audience members on the edges of the "proscenium" don’t have the desired sightlines for proscenium-style blocking.

Noel Coward was a songwriter as well as a playwright, and he wrote the operetta-like "Someday I’ll Find You" for "Private Lives." It’s not sung in Stage Door Players’ production, assumedly due to the fact that Mark Kincaid’s voice isn’t up to the vocal demands. (His mimed piano playing was pretty poor too, but that might improve during the run.) Rial Ellsworth ’s sound design doesn’t have background music for all the mentions of music in the first scene, but that may be a directorial choice by Robert Egizio, since constant ocean sounds and far-away orchestra music would be distracting.

Jane Kroessig’s costumes and John David Williams’ lighting design keep the show visually appealing. George Deavours’ wigs on the women looked acceptable at the start of the run, but will probably look more wiggy as the run progresses. Kathy Manning’s props look good, but the restricted stage space in the set design threatens to turn the few props into clutter.

Performances are all good. Rachel Garner and Joe Sykes play the unwanted new spouses with energy and verve. The Kincaids, pros that they are, add a lot of nice touches to their portrayals, with Ms. Kincaid particularly appealing in the choices she makes. Dina Shadwell gets limited stage time to perform comic shtick in a role that requires her to speak entirely in French. And the French in the show was perhaps more authentic than the British accents, which mixed "ask" and "ahsk" (and similar words), with Ms. Kincaid consistent on the first pronunciation, Ms. Garner consistent on the second pronunciation, and the men switching back and forth.

Director Robert Egizio has put together a good show that will improve as the run progresses. The hearty applause greeting the actors at the end of the show is a sign that the production works, but it wasn’t firing on all cylinders at the early performance I saw. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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