Play Reading in English - Private Lives by Noel Coward


HK English Speaking Union
  • Mon 20-11-2017 7:15 PM - 2 h


Free admission


This month’s play is Noel Coward’s most sophisticated comedy of manners, Private Lives, written in 1930 and an instant favourite with audiences. Like so many of Coward's plays – and like his own life – Private Lives hides more than it gives away.

It says as much in its sly title, and even more so in its intriguing subtitle. Created in only three days it was Coward's greatest success, earning an amazing £3,200 for him every week. It made him the highest-paid dramatist in the world at the time.

The whimsical plot involves passion, laughter, romance, anger, and love. Coward designed the play as a battle of the sexes, as divorced couple, Amanda and Elyot, find themselves unwittingly thrown together in Paris. Unknowingly booking adjoining rooms while on honeymoon with their respective spouses, Victor and Sybil, Amanda and Elyot are forced to face their true feelings for each other. Realising that they both have made inappropriate marriages, the divorcees attempt to escape their mismatched partners. In haste, and under cover of darkness, they flee their honeymoon hotel and unsuspecting spouses in search of privacy at Amanda’s secluded Paris flat.

Despite their passion for each other, Amanda and Elyot begin to bicker violently, just as they had done during their marriage. It is clear that the couple cannot live with each other, but cannot live without each other either. When they are discovered several days later by their jilted spouses, all four lovers must finally acknowledge just who is really suited to whom. Fast-paced and witty, Noel Coward’s three-act comedy remains popular today as recent revivals such as the one below in 2015. Coward wrote one of his most popular songs, "Some Day I'll Find You", for the play.


Facilitator: Mike Ingham

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