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Theater review: 'Private Lives' at GTC Burbank

February 23, 2012 |  1:10 pm

Elyot and amanda
Noel Coward’s “Private Lives” has been produced prolifically since it first hit the boards in 1930. It seems that actors -– most recently Kim Cattrall in the 2011 Broadway revival –- can’t wait to sink their teeth into Coward’s surprisingly substantial froth.

Anyone who has seen a Coward play under less than optimum circumstances knows just how quickly that froth can turn leaden. Fortunately, in his present production at the GTC Burbank, director Jules Aaron has assembled a gifted cast that keeps the tone light and the dialogue properly aerated.

The first act contains the bulk of plot. Divorced five years previously, Amanda (Stasha Surdyke) and Elyot (Lenny von Dohlen), are honeymooning in Deauville with their respective new spouses, stodgy Victor (Jeff Witzke) and silly Sibyl (Annie Abrams.) 

Coincidence intervenes when Amanda and Elyot spy each other across the terraces of their adjacent hotel suites. After their initial horror, passion rekindles and the duo absconds to Amanda’s Paris hideaway, where romance soon deteriorates into comical acrimony.

Disporting in Shon LeBlanc's costumes, which with a few exceptions are stylishly sumptuous, Surdyke and Von Dohlen capture the drawling sophistication of their characters in crisp Cowardian style.  As for the play's “extra puppets” (Coward's term), Witzke and Abrams are impressive supernumeraries, especially Abrams, who can say more with a discreetly lowered eyelid than most actors can in monologue. And if Angie Light's galumphing French maid collapses into caricature, it's a minor flaw in an otherwise gratifying production. 

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-- F. Kathleen Foley

“Private Lives,” GTC Burbank, George Izay Park, 1111-B W. Olive Ave., Burbank.  8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays.  Ends March 25.  $34.50.  (323) 960-7738. www.Plays411.com/PrivateLives. Running time:  2 hours.

Photo: Lenny Von Dohlen and Stasha Surdyke. Credit: Christopher Trela/ArtsPR.

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