Wednesday 21st May, 2008


Private lives revealed on stage

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Hansley Ajodha as Elyot with
Tammy Shaw as Sibyl.

Does a romantic relationship ever really end? Are our new endearments all pretence and a monument to our past love affairs? Can we abandon prudence for passion without falling under public scrutiny for our misdemeanours?

These are the dilemmas that are revealed in the play Private Lives, being produced by the San Fernando Theatre Workshop. Veteran actors David Sammy (Victor) and Hansley Ajodha (Elyot) team up with newly returned and multi-talented performance artist Arlene Wilkes (Amanda) and Tammy Shaw (Sibyl) in this 1930s romantic comedy, written by British playwright Noel Coward.

Amanda and Elyot, a long-divorced couple, have an accidental meeting on a hotel balcony in the south of France. Seems ordinary enough, until you realise that they are both on their honeymoons for their new marriages.

Neither can believe the chances of such an untimely encounter and are stunned into the revelation of what they have each settled for in marrying their new spouses.

The audience is treated to the private confessions of this twisted love story while the relationship between this estranged couple blurs the lines of what society would deem acceptable behaviour.

It is not bizarre when the dysfunctional marriage that Amanda and Elyot shared is indeed their catalyst for reigniting their love for each other “I’ve never loved anyone else for an instant!”, and it becomes painfully clear that Victor and Sibyl respectfully, will be left in the shadow of this passionate and yet explosive love affair.

Both newly married couples have barely had time to acquaint themselves with each other without being marred with questions about their first marriages; it’s no surprise, therefore, that Amanda and Elyot hatch a plan to escape together by eloping to Paris.

Spouses in this play (or generally!) really don’t know when it’s best to shut up and it lands both relationships in a heap of catastrophic trouble. They make a “sacred compact never to quarrel” and feel a tinge of guilt about leaving Victor and Sibyl before justifying that “it can’t be helped.”

Private Lives offers a glimpse into that all-consuming relationship you once had/have or one that you always wondered about.

Director James Lee Wah continues his creativity and technique with the San Fernando Theatre Workshop in this production that has been in intense rehearsals.

Lee Wah’s craft thus far has astutely combined the snobbery of the English middle class of Amanda and Elyot, Sibyl and Victor, with a dignified and dry humour that gives a bellyful of laughs.

Both Sammy and Ajodha play this genre well and promise to deliver a witty and combative performance.

The play gets physical in a battle of the fists and wits, and it’s left to see who is left standing, with whose spouse, at the end.

The premiere of Private Lives is scheduled for June 6, at Naparima Bowl, San Fernando. The play runs until June 8.

Tickets are available at the Naparima Bowl Box Office; Valini’s Drugs; RIK, High Street and Gulf City, San Fernando; Ishmael Khan, Coffee Street, San Fernando, or call 735-8065, 682-8455, 739-9291 for further information.