A new production of Noël Coward's 1930 comedy of manners Private Lives will be performed at the Roman Theatre this summer.

Directed by OVO's artistic director Adam Nichols, the production stars Emma Wright and Mat Betteridge as sparring ex-partners Elyot and Amanda.

Private Lives is known for being fast-paced, hilarious, dark and witty, featuring Coward's sharp observations of human behaviour.

The play tells the story of Elyot and Amanda, who are glamorous, rich and reckless former spouses.

Now honeymooning with new spouses in the south of France, they meet by chance across adjoining hotel balconies.

The couple are horrified, then fascinated, and before long are sharing cocktails and serenades.

Despite the scandal, they elope to Amanda's Paris apartment, but after days of being reunited find their fiery romance alternating between extremes of love and anger.

Are they destined for a life together, or are their passions too strong to contain?

Adam said: "I think Private Lives is one of the great plays of the 20th century.

"Like much of Coward’s work Private Lives is very funny but it also contains some dark, profound moments and beautifully drawn three-dimensional characters."


The Roman Theatre performance will feature live music, with a specially commissioned score from OVO's regular musical director Tomas Cagnoni, inspired by Coward's song 'Some Day I'll Find You' - which he composed specifically for the play.

"We choose plays for the Roman Theatre that actually take place outside," Adam said. "And Private Lives fits the bill perfectly, particularly with the setting of Act 1 on the balcony of a hotel in Deauville, France. 

"We have a very strong cast alongside Emma and Mat; Roman Theatre audiences will recognise Charlie Clee as Victor who played Demetrius in last year’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Jack in The Importance of Being Earnest and we have two brilliant OVO newcomers joining the cast: Grace Bassett who plays Sybil and Josephine Rattigan who plays Louise."

The production runs from June 23 to August 19 at the Roman Theatre in St Albans, as part of The Roman Theatre Open Air Festival.

For tickets go to www.ovo.org.uk.