Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Theatre: Private Lives at Royal Alexandra Theatre
After several days of bliss, problems ensue when they fall back into old habits, allowing incessant sniping. insecurities and petty jealousies to escalate into full blown fights. Several times they attempt to quell the brewing argument by invoking the pre-arranged phrase "Solomon Issacs", later shortened to "Sollocks" as as signal to stop all discussions until both sides cool down. This pair epitomizes the saying "Can't live with them .. Can't live without them".
The lavish set representing the Paris apartment where Amanda and Elyot flee to is so beautifully decorated that it becomes distracting. It had an art deco feel to it in terms of wall ornaments and patterns and featured a giant round bed on center stage, a covered piano, a pair of chaise lounges that would come into play in the third act, and a very unique goldfish bowl that results in a sight gag. I found I was spending so much time looking at the details of the room through my binoculars that I was missing the action.
And the fact that he has hit her more than once is treated very lightly with quips like "Certain women should be struck regularly, like gongs" and "I didn't hit you very hard". It's interesting that the physical violence that they inflict on each other is written to be slapstick-ish humour, with her breaking a record over his head and he slapping her across the face. But in current day sensibilities regarding domestic violence, there is a double standard where his actions were seen as vile and only hers were considered funny.
This is a very enjoyable play which will hopefully do well when it travels to Broadway after its Toronto run. It will be playing at Royal Alexandra Theatre until the end of October.