Private Lives at Cal Shakes: Sophisticated Wit, Lanky Cigarette Holders and Garter Belts


It’s shaping up to be a Noel Cowardy season. Private Lives is still playing at Cal Shakes, Connie Champagne is singing Coward in her “Songs to Make you Gay” cabaret, “Easy Virtue", an adaptation of the Coward play, recently screened at the SF International Film Festival and ACT will open their Fall season with the U.S. premiere of “Brief Encounter,” Kneehigh Theatre’s production of the play based on the 1945 film. The show wowed London with a blend of theater and film and music and comes to SF in September.

Divorce Noel Coward style means a jealous rage busts up the couple, an unstoppable passion reunites them and bickering, sparing, screaming and slapping rocks the yacht again and again.

Rucker over-underlines the wacky screwball-ness of it all with the couple walking all over their couch, dancing at the drop of a hat, pantomiming like little children on amphetamines and tossing pillows, punches and record albums hither and thither.

Still one misses the high grade snap crackle pop of Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, the madcap-est I hate you/I love yous of this genre.

Not that Turner and LaMa aren’t adequately off-the-wall.  Especially with their spurned and stodgy lovers standing near to contrast manners. Sarah Nealis and Jud Williford play Sybil and Victor, the exes who watch agog at the unrefined antics of their would-be paramours.

The whimsy and the one-liners may not be top-shelf, but it’s a giddy concoction bound to make one titter a tad.




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