I think very few people are completely normal, deep down in their private lives.
The Brave, The Pride, Tribes, Top Girls, Private Lives. All these snappy play titles are starting to get a bit confusing as I try to remember what is what and where is what and who and why and sheesh.
Last night it was Private Lives time though and I was excited. See when I was 12, Silo Theatre put on a show called The Women. It’s this little play from the 30’s, with an all female cast, snappy, witty dialogue and lots of punch. It quickly became my favourite play of all time. (It may have helped that over three seasons I got to see it five or so times and got super kudos at school for interviewing Hannah Banks and Anna Hutchison for it.) That play was probably my first proper introduction to Silo and ever since I’ve known that whatever they do, I’ll enjoy it.
From what I’d read, Private Lives felt like it could evoke the same enjoyment as did The Women. Written in the 30’s by Noel Coward, it’s about divorced couple, Amanda (played by Mia Blake) and Elyot (Matt Whelan) who on remarrying find each other occupying adjoining rooms during their honeymoon. Chaos ensues. It’s a play that would have been totally titillating and controversial during its time but with the guidance of director, Shane Bosher translates perfectly to the modern environment. It’s fabulous and decadent and very naughty reminding me a little bit of Thom Pain as well.
Private Lives opens on a flashy set, huge white geometric walls, glossy leather couches, a neon light shining the words La Petit Mort. Rachael Walker has done a great job of establishing exactly what sort of world these people live in. Because flashy is at it’s essence. From the beautiful actors and costuming to the jetsetting lifestyle, its a world where nothing is denied, nothing is out of reach and for Amanda and Elyot, morals are disposable.
Unfortunately for their new partners, this is not quite a mutual feeling. Sure, they are both quite entitled but they are bound within normal expectations, duties and attitudes. It’s quickly apparent that Sibyl (Sophie Henderson) and Victor (Sam Snedden) have thrown themselves into a snake pit as mirrored introductory scenes reveal how little they actually know their spouses.
Things quickly begin to fall apart, but this is where it gets exciting. All of the actors truly come to the fore as tensions rise and passions flow. Whether its Sophie Henderson being beautifully young and dramatic or Mia Blake being dastardly seductive and a little bit evil. Or the boys, Matt Whelan being a flippant ass hole, Sam Snedden being an up tight grandpa. And best of all, producing possibly the most delightfully awkward scene that I have ever watched. As Elyot more or less pronounces – We have no prior script for how to behave in a situation like this, so I will continue to act as flippant as feels fit.
Silo Theatre productions are always a total experience – sound, lighting, set, costuming. This was no different. Music played an important role in this show, bringing characters together and driving them apart. Yet despite the potentially heavy subject matter the music kept things in this horrific mood of hilarity. It was littered with tracks that made you want to move and all of a sudden I was able to understand why I’ve seen many post show tweets that read simply Let’s Have A Kiki.
Meanwhile, Sean Lynch’s lighting design is possibly going to give my mother a headache since I’ve decided that I’d quite like some neons in my room. Please and thank you. It’s very modern, from the neon sign in the set to the neon strip on the floor, separating the two suites at the start. It’s very clean and bright yet commands some intimacy – which is lovely considering how sterile white modern designer everything can be.
I’ve already mentioned Rachael’s set, but I can’t not talk about the costuming. Like with The Women, Charlotte Rust was lucky enough to get Zambesi on board. Cue clothing slobber. In particular was this dress worn by Mia Blake. It was the ultimate in sexy. Flowing and tight simultaneously, thigh high slit, pewter and a faint sparkle. Woah there, calm down Mia, it’s too much!
Private Lives is a fabulous play. It’s hilarious with witty and clever dialogue and is beautifully presented. Adam as per usual said that this could be his favourite Silo show of the year (although he does say this every time) but I would definitely recommend it. On the brochure they call it ‘the original rom-com’ and if it is, it’s possibly also one of the better ones.
Private Lives is on at Q Theatre until the 29th of September and tickets range from $25 for students to $55. You can buy them here.