Q Theatre, Rangatira, Auckland

06/09/2012 - 29/09/2012

Production Details


Noël Coward’s genre-defining comedy 

Silo gleefully grabs an axe and sets to the Corbusier, trashing apartments and relationships when they take on the original rom-com PRIVATE LIVES at Q Theatre from September 6th.  

This love-to-hate-you romp for thinking people is pumped full of the lacerating wit that the likes of Ricky Gervais could only dream. Noël Coward’s celebration of modernity, disposable relationships and withering put-downs is about to be given a wild contemporary makeover by the company notorious. Expect ridiculous pleasure.

There are only two things wrong with Amanda and Elyot’s honeymoon. Her husband and his wife. Once explosively wedded to each other, now quite happily divorced, Amanda and Elyot find themselves trapped in adjoining hotel suites – where they both happen to be honeymooning with their new spouses. Bugger. 

Will they f**k, kill or remarry? 

EVERYONE knows a “can’t be with them, can’t live without them” couple like Amanda and Elyot. History and literature are riddled with them: Antony and Cleopatra, Carrie and Mr. Big, Bogie and Bacall, Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, Bridget Jones and Daniel Cleaver. In a coup of sexual chemistry and dangerous alchemy, Silo has lined up Go Girls’ Matt Whelan and Mia Blake as the love-to-hate-you divorcees.

PRIVATE LIVES is widely acclaimed as Noël Coward’s masterpiece but has a bit of a wicked history. Struck down by the flu and confined to a Shanghai hotel room, Coward wrote the play in only four days as a vehicle for himself and his best mate Gertrude Lawrence. Prim, buttoned-up critics panned the play’s 1930 premiere and the Lord Chamberlain tried to ban it. But audiences couldn’t be deterred, devouring the slap-happy showdown of wits.

Held up as a hallmark of Coward’s writing style, the play is now revered for its definitive wit, perfect plotting and jagged sophistication and this year alone was revived on Broadway.

Over its 80 year history, a succession of top-shelf talents have lined up to play the glamorous, rich and reckless heroine Amanda. Mia Blake will step into stilettos previously worn by legends Kim Cattrall, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Collins and Maggie Smith.

Silo’s inimitable take on one of the greatest comedies of all time builds on the company’s reputation of rejigging classic work for modern audiences. Memorable productions such as THE WOMEN, THE THREEPENNY OPERA and TARTUFFE have all caused stampedes at the box office, with audiences celebrating the company’s wild interventions.

Silo regulars Sophie Henderson and Sam Snedden team up to play the jilted spouses in Shane Bosher’s production, with the cast strutting the boards in the ultra-chic fashion musings of so-hot-right-now stylist Charlotte Rust.

This is PRIVATE LIVES in the 21st Century. In a world where pratfalls are at least as important as posing, audiences need look no further than their dirty martinis for a wickedly good time at the theatre this September.

Wonderfully funny and fabulously sexy, Private Lives has lost none of its allure.” – THE TELEGRAPH

plays at Q Theatre, 305 Queen Street, Auckland 
6th – 29th September, 2012
Monday – Tuesday at 7pm;
Wednesday through Saturday at 8pm

OPEN DIALOGUE: Monday 10th September, 6pm
TWENTYSOMETHING: Thursday 13th September

Tickets: $25.00 – $55.00
Tickets available through Q Theatre – or 09 309 9771  

My love-hate relationship with Silo’s Private Lives

Review by James Wenley 12th Sep 2012

Consider this plot: A newly remarried man about town books into a hotel room for his honeymoon only to discover that his ex-wife has booked the very next room for her own honeymoon. Will old sparks be reflamed? And what about their new partners? Hijinks and hilarity ensue.

Sure sounds like a plot from a cookie-cutter romantic comedy. Get Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis to star. We’ll call it ‘The Honeymoon’. Print that money.

Theatre buffs like you know will know that this is in fact the plot of perennial favourite Private Lives by Noel Coward. Scandalous on its 1930 debut, director Shane Bosher, with a few cosmetic changes has thrust this comedy of bad manners into a raucous and sexy contemporary set version. [More


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Slick pastiche reboots Coward for modern audience

Review by Paul Simei-Barton 10th Sep 2012

Director Shane Bosher has created an emphatically contemporary interpretation of Private Lives, designed to introduce a new generation of theatre-goers to Noel Coward’s scintillating wit and exquisite sense of structure.

The updating may have diminished the musicality of Coward’s language but the local references raise plenty of laughs and an edgy post-modern pastiche is achieved by having delightfully old-fashioned words like “shilly-shallying” and “slatternly” floating about in a world filled with iPads and trance dancing. [More


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Perfect mis-matching

Review by Melisa Martin 08th Sep 2012

For a play about relationships, you buy a ticket, you take your seat, and you settle in for a couple of hours of relationship mayhem. But Silo’s season of the sparkling 1930’s Noel Coward comedy Private Lives, which opened last night at Auckland’s Q Theatre, is so much more than a play about relationships.

Paramount to this production is the ‘love-to-hate-you’ chemistry between sophisticate Elyot and his equally sassy ex-wife Amanda, who awkwardly find themselves back in love, five years after their divorce, whilst honeymooning with their respective new spouses. Before the pair have even shared the stage in Shane Bosher’s modern interpretation, Matt Whelan and Mia Blake have cast their line to reel us in, one farcical mishap at a time.

A big pull to this show is the unfaltering Whelan, whose last stage credit was in Silo’s 2009 production of Holding the Man. He embodies the young, professional chic of superficial Elyot with a redemptive bumbling quality which makes him a pleasure to watch on the stage. Extra impressively there is no trace of Brad, Whelan’s long-term, long-suffering role on TVNZ’s Go Girls, as Elyot clings to triviality in the face of personal accountability and problematic drama. His Elyot combines style with an unmatched layer of merrily unsophisticated physical comedy.

Blake’s Amanda shares a similar superficiality; her poise and elegance almost the epitome of rich-bitch boredom and petulance, with surprising glimmers of humanity in which we watch a girl tragically make the mistake of falling in love with a boy, despite every reason she has not to. It’s a chemical explosion which Blake suckers us into over and over again. She proudly wears her evening gown, and silk bathrobes with authority, and even in the heights of chaos she dominates the situation. 

Main instigators of said situations are Sybil (Sophie Henderson) and Victor (Sam Snedden), Elyot and Amanda’s clearly mismatched new spouses. We meet them each on the adjoining balconies of their respective honeymoon suites, in love, with no idea that they’re about to embark on possibly the worst weekend of their lives. Obviously more-suited for each other, Henderson’s Sybil is played with a delightful naivety, and chirpiness, and Snedden’s Victor a crusty bore, though they expertly fall short of ever being dull.

If the play’s banter/bicker bit becomes slightly repetitive, we could perhaps blame a modern background for the historic farce. Despite local references, a hysterical rendition of Lou Reed’s ‘Perfect Day’ and a lot of “shilly-shallying about”, there is something about the pithy dialogue that seems to not quite mesh with its contemporary setting.

That the pace slows right down somewhere in the middle of the second act may have less to do with Shane Bosher’s direction than Rachael Walker’s set design. Aesthetically pleasing in every way, particularly for the modern portrayal, there is a disconnect between locations, as very minimal set changes make their settings unclear. 

However, the inhabitants are still an excellent match, which is the important part. Private Lives doesn’t offer soul-searching, fate-questioning, or deep-hearted discussion on who’s meant to be with whom at any given time, but there is never any question that Whelan and Blake are perfectly coupled.


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