WHO better to shine light at the end of the tunnel than Noel Coward, and that’s what Nigel Havers has in store for Bath audiences in October.
In the fervent hope that theatres will be open for business by the time 1st October comes, Wiltshire resident Havers intends to launch his new company with a production of the Master’s timeless Private Lives, playing Elyot Chase to Patricia Hodge’s Amanda Prynne. It’s the first time either has performed in this legendary portrait of a love-hate relationship.
Nigel Havers, who was persuaded by producer David Pugh to set up the company, is delighted to be able to choose the plays he will tour across the country for up to four months each year, and promises to bring entertaining shows to as wide an audience as possible – at affordable prices. In this inaugural year the company, which includes Dugald Bruce-Lockhart as Victor and Natalie Walter as Sibyl, visits eight theatres.
The production will be directed by Christopher Luscombe and designed by Simon Higlett.
Coward’s dazzling comic masterpiece is both a scintillatingly witty and scathingly vitriolic study of the rich and reckless in love. Elyot and Amanda, who were once married, find themselves in adjoining rooms in the same hotel on the French Riviera, both on honeymoon with their new partners. Their initial horror quickly evaporates and soon they’re sharing cocktails and a romantic serenade.
It is the perfect play for this year. Noel Coward was on tour in Asia when he contracted influenza. During his fortnight-long convalescence he sketched out the skeleton of Private Lives, and wrote the final draft in just four days. Who knows what masterpieces might emerge from our lockdowns and isolations?
The tour opens at Bath, from 1st to 10th October.