Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Private Lives"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

note: entire contents copyright 2003 by Carl A. Rossi


"PRIVATE LIVES"

by Noel Coward
directed and produced by Juliet Cunningham and Matthew Oliva

Sibyl Chase Ö Ann Marie King
Elyot Chase Ö Peter Brown
Victor Prynne Ö Jesse Martin
Amanda Payne Ö Julie Dapper
Louise Ö Juliet Cunningham

Julie Dapper, enchanting little comedienne, recently sparkled for a few performances of Noel Cowardís PRIVATE LIVES at The Theatre on the Hill, a near-secret company in the shadow of the State House. I last had the pleasure of seeing Ms. Dapper perform over a year and a half ago in Neil Simonís JAKEíS WOMEN for the late Ubiquity Stage and was delighted to reacquaint myself with her elfin charms. As Amanda, the feline half of a cocktail couple, divorced and falling in love again while honeymooning with their new spouses, Ms. Dapper was smart and trim, both in figure and in timing, poised between shady lady and elegant broad, china-fragile yet proving to be the stone, not the pitcher, in a knock-down loverís quarrel. Peter Brown, her Elyot, still has a ways to go in becoming a three-dimensional actor but managed to sail his charming cad into port (Mr. Brown played the soft-spoken, complex male lead in last yearís BEE-LUTHER-HATCHEE at the Zeitgeist and anyone associated with that lovely, ignored production is aces in my book). Ann Marie King made an amusing dowager-to-be out of Sibyl, thoroughly deserving her thrashing at playís end, and Jesse Martin, cheeks quivering in rage, was a properly thick Victor.

The Theatre on the Hill production was a rough diamond but what it lacked in polish it more than made up for in sincerity, the next best thing for an amateur company. I didnít laugh much during PRIVATE LIVES --- Mr. Cowardís fizz is now rather flat --- but I was touched by the Hillís determination to create on the thinnest of shoe strings albeit only once a year (the more shows the Hill can afford to do, the better it should become --- their production of THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, two years ago, was quite impressive in all departments). One cannot easily dismiss the Hill when its heart is clearly in the right place despite its recycled pieces from past productions (Amandaís Parisian flat was distinctly New England provincial), the locales being changed in full view of the audience and one co-director playing the piano behind the audience (while Elyot mimed playing onstage), then stepping into Act Three as the maid --- theatre professionals, looking back on their own beginnings, should be humble enough to agree that they did not get to where they are solely on their talent: they got there because the public was first made aware of their existence and grew to love and support them. May the flame of Thespis continue to glow in the Hillís little temple, defying the cold winds that would gladly extinguish it.

"Private Lives" (19-28 September)
THE THEATRE ON THE HILL
Church of the New Jerusalem, 140 Bowdoin Street, BOSTON, MA
1 (617) 361-3828

THE THEATER MIRROR, New Englandís LIVE Theater Guide

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