Described as a 'comedy of manners' - a play that satirises different echelons of the social ladder - Noël Coward's 1930 three-act play centres on Elyot (Toby Stephens) and Amanda (Anna Chancellor) who have been divorced for five years when they run into each other again whilst on honeymoon with their new spouses. The coincidental encounter reignites the divorcee's former passion irrespective of the marital issues they previously had, or the feelings of their current partners.

Jonathan Kent
Director Jonathon Kent Likens Private Lives To An Exquisite Fabergé Egg.

The play had a successful run at Chichester's Festival theatre, lampooning the glamorous and reckless lives of the rich and will now, according to the theatre's website, "blaze across the West End stage this summer in an explosive production that proves Noël Coward still has the power to thrill, provoke and delight." Accomplished British lead actors Anna Chancellor (Four Weddings and a Funeral) and Toby Stephens (Die Another Day) are praised by The Telegraph for the "sense of unbuttoned intimacy and desire" between them in a "superb production [that] feels forever young, fresh and delightful."

Anna Chancellor
Anna Chancellor Plays Amanda In Private Lives.

In an interview with the BBC, director Jonathan Kent describes Coward's Private Lives as an "astonishing Fabergé egg of a piece...exquisitely made," praising the play's main characters for their "Curiously acute portrait of a relationship," as similarities are noted between the particularities of the 1930s relationship compared to a modern day one: "a portrait of a new generation [with a] contemporary resonance." Kent also observes that what modern day audiences may find funny may have been uncomfortable for 1930s theatre-goers with explicit scenes, Amanda's emancipation and a liberal attitude to sex that wasn't as commonplace at the time.

Private Lives will run from Friday 5th July To Saturday 21st September at West End's Gielgud Theatre, with tickets priced from £13.

Toby Stephens
Toby Stephens Stars As Elyot.