Comedy hails the spring

Private Lives is being performed by Titchfield Festival Theatre from March 14-24.  L-R: Amy Manwaring - seated (Sybil); Kevin Fraser (Elyot); Georgie Gulliford (Amanda); Bob Collier - seated (Victor).
Private Lives is being performed by Titchfield Festival Theatre from March 14-24. L-R: Amy Manwaring - seated (Sybil); Kevin Fraser (Elyot); Georgie Gulliford (Amanda); Bob Collier - seated (Victor).
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Now that it’s marginally warmer outside, with the sun occasionally making an appearance, it feels like we’re waking up from winter.

With spring being just around the corner, the long and sunny days of summer don’t seem too far away.

That’s exactly what Titchfield Festival Theatre had in mind when it decided to put on the light-hearted comedy of manners, Noel Coward’s Private Lives.

Director Julian Sluggart says: ‘It just seemed right at this time of year.

‘You need something light, and it fits well into the schedule. It’s a brilliant comedy of manners.’

He added: ‘People are feeling more optimistic now as they come out of months of darkness. There’s light at the end of the tunnel now that spring is nearly here.’

With Chichester Festival Theatre having a revival of Terence Rattigan as part of last year’s season, Julian believes more credit should be given to Noel Coward.

He adds: ‘Noel Coward is overlooked in lots of ways. It’s just fun to do that style of language.

‘It’s terribly difficult material to deal with, with the teaming of the lines it is so precise.

‘It really does depend on split second timing, and the second gets divided almost into fractions!’

In the original 1930 production, while rehearsals were under way, the Lord Chamberlain labelled the second act love scene too risque as the characters were divorced and married to others.

Nearly banned at the time, Noel Coward went to St James’ Palace to plead his case by acting out the play, and it was allowed to continue.

But, as Julian points out, by today’s audiences it would not cause a problem.

He says: ‘The whole background of divorce in the 1930s was totally, totally different to our audiences today, so it’s great fun to do.’

Starring in the production is Kevin Fraser, Georgie Gulliford, Amy Manwairing, and Bob Collier.

Tickets cost £7 to £9 from Titchfield Festival Theatre on (01329) 556156 or go to titchfieldfestivaltheatre.com.