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Everyman Theatre pries delightfully into ‘Private Lives’

(Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun) If love were all, relationships might be terribly boring. That couples are apt to encounter, with some frequency, various frictions of a non-amorous nature may well be what keeps them stuck together. It sure can make them fun to watch.
So Noel Coward reminds us in “Private Lives.” An antic revival of this 1930 comedy of bad manners is currently ripping up the boards at Everyman Theatre.

In a fast-paced three acts, Coward generates a clever, witty whirl from a simple set-up. At a seaside French hotel, Amanda and Elyot, now divorced, collide on their honeymoons with fresh spouses. It turns out that the old emotional bonds between the two were not as neatly severed as the legal ones.

The playwright, who often seems to be channeling Oscar Wilde in the quip department, skewers notions of romance, fidelity, compromise, sensitivity — you name it.

“Let’s be superficial and … enjoy the party as much as we can.” Elyot tells Amanda. Forget being sensible or serious. That’s “just what they want,” all those “futile moralists who try to make life unbearable.”

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