Muskoka To-DAILY

Private Lives funny dinner theatre that in an odd way is entertaining life lesson

Mark Clairmont | MuskokaTODAILY.com

GRAVENHURST — How does a play involving domestic abuse become slap happy?

It's hard to cheer for in 'Private Lives,' the actors are all so good, from left: Earl Sacrey as as Victor; Emma Phillips as Amanda, David Walton as Elyot and Lauren Saunders as Sybil.

It’s hard to know who to cheer for in ‘Private Lives,’ the actors are all so good, from left: Earl Sacrey as as Victor; Emma Phillips as Amanda, David Walton as Elyot and Lauren Saunders as Sybil.

It shouldn’t — but it somehow does in “Private Lives,” the oddly funny dinner theatre entering its final weekend run at the Quality Inn in Bracebridge.

The complexities of marriage, friendship and romance are kicked about with dark humour that seems to politely resonate with audiences.

Yet how do director Pru Donaldson and the great Dragonfly Theatre cast and crew do it?

Well, when this dated piece by Noel Coward is glib, witty — well-acted — clever and painfully true it does what plays have always done.

It entertains and at the same time makes you think and reflect on your own life.

And “Private Lives” does it in an acceptably nice way; so you don’t feel beaten up by a  subject matter, which sees brief forays into the reality of unacceptability.

Like wedded bliss — it’s actually quite enjoyable except when the damnable brief moments of emotion shatter it.

The private moments that add — and subtract.

And in this one it’s hard to know who to cheer for — the actors and their parts are all so good and real that you feel you’re one of the cast without a speaking part. They say and express so rawly and beautifully what you often feel.

You have divorced couple Elyot Chase (David Walton) and Amanda Prynne (Emma Phillips), both on their honeymoon with new partners, Sybil Chase (Lauren Saunders) and Victor Prynne (Earl Sacrey), meeting in the same Paris hotel.

Elyot and Amanda get back together after realizing their divorce was a mistake.

Caught in between are Sybil and Victor, who stoically rise above the noise of reflection and reunification — and find themselves in this weird time and place attracted as the winners and losers.

Are they happy? Go and see, then you can decide.

Elyot is the straight setup man. He gets all the great flippant lines and delivers his sarcasm with well-timed dry wit and witticisms that hit home hard.

Two couples on their honeymoon meet with disastrous results in the dark-humoured Noel Coward play on in its final run by Dragon Theatre at the Quality Inn in Bracebridge this weekend till Saturday Aug. 12.

Two couples on their honeymoon meet with disastrous results in the dark-humoured Noel Coward play on in its final run by Dragon Theatre at the Quality Inn in Bracebridge this weekend till Saturday Aug. 12.

He calls Amanda a “… temperamentally wicked woman.”

But it’s his ex-wife whose rejoinders that crack up the audience.

She calls him a “ridiculous ass….”

“You waste too much time being funny.”

Or: “If you hadn’t been so nosy you wouldn’t have known….

“You’re more of a cad than I thought you were.”

Not to be outdone, is Sybil, who cuts through the cutting remarks by the other couple with zingers of her own.

Following a feigned attempt at machismo between the two studs, Sybil tells Victor: “If you were half the man I thought you were, he’d be bandaging himself.”

Victor ends up the referee and the narrator/storyteller.

He’s the one who sums up the goings-on with more of an exhaustively fine rant that’s kind of a climax to the crazy situation they find themselves as they explore their newfound options and try ineptly to put the past to bed.

And as the couples go their separate ways, it’s the learned behaviour that the audience leaves with.

“It’s really good, so good,” says a woman to her female friend as they leave the play.

And so true.

“Private Lives” runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. Tickets for the 8 p.m. show are $25 or $50 with dinner at 6:30 p.m.

Short URL: http://www.muskokatodaily.com/?p=28415

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