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March 1, 2011 > Theatre: Delicious peek into "Private Lives"

Theatre: Delicious peek into "Private Lives"

By Julie Grabowski

A glorious summer evening. The lovely terrace of a French hotel. A beautiful stretch of beach, the sound of music, soaring gulls, and two couples in love. Elyot and Sibyl Chase have just begun their honeymoon, yet Sibyl can't keep from questioning her new husband about his first wife. On the adjoining terrace, newlywed Victor Prynne is experiencing the same trouble. He's annoying his wife Amanda with his ceaseless probing into her previous marriage, she wanting only to forget the past and enjoy her future.

But when former loves Elyot and Amanda come face to face, past and future collide in a flurry of panic, memories, cocktails, and attempted prudence. When neither can persuade their spouses to leave the hotel and old passion reignites, what is to be done?

Playwright Noel Coward takes a serious situation and makes it feel like nothing more than tasty spun candy. "Private Lives" is a witty and jaunty ride through marital turmoil, and while you think your heart should be breaking, you're too busy laughing. Under the direction of Susan E. Evans, Douglas Morrisson Theatre's season opener is a fervent delight; fighting, drinking, and name calling have never been so much fun.

Gene Mocsy and Bobbi Fagone are the power pair as Elyot and Amanda, a perfectly delicious duo performing excellent verbal and physical boxing matches. Mocsy is searingly funny with an arsenal of fabulous fighting words such as "I should like to cut off your head with a meat axe." He just gets better and better as the play progresses and is entirely fabulous. Fagone's Amanda is stylish and tantalizing in a ball of wonderful fury and elegance that never ceases to entertain. The two's dynamic partnership makes the show a must see.

Alicia von Kugelgen and Wylie Herman are complimenting foils as bewildered new spouses, Sibyl and Victor. They are the solid providers of the only dash of sensibility and propriety in the pot, but are especially delightful when they descend to the level of their warring spouses.

Laura Morgan completes the cast list, appearing first as a casino singer then returning to deliver an unexpected bonus as Amanda's ailing and ranting French speaking maid.

From dreamy to dreadful, beautiful to biting, "Private Lives" is a thoroughly enjoyable romp through the treasures and tortures of love.

Tickets are $24 for adults, $22 for seniors (60 and above), and $15 for students with ID. Purchase tickets online at or by calling the box office Tuesday through Friday, 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., at (510) 881-6777.

Noel Coward's Private Lives
February 25 - March 20
Thursday, Friday and Saturday: 8 p.m.
Sunday: 2 p.m.
Douglas Morrisson Theatre
22311 N. Third St., Hayward
(510) 881-6777

Tickets: $15 - $24

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