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Private Lives (1985)


State Theatre of South Australia

Playwright: Noel Coward

Study Guide

More info needed

Hugo Weaving … Elyot

The story is about a high-society couple named Amanda and Elyot. They have divorced and are now remarried to the gullible Victor and the insecure Sybil. The problem is Amanda and Elyot can’t live without each other and yet, they can’t really live with each other. They have murderous fights and rageful fits, which living amongst the rich, they feel entitled to. Not to mention they both have some pleasure in outwitting each other. Some might call it a sick addiction, they call it love.

The play opens at a beautiful hotel in France. Both Amanda and Victor, and Elyot and Sybil are honeymooning there. The drama starts when Amanda and Elyot see one another on the patio and decide to run away together. The attraction has returned and their fascination with their new spouses has worn off. They sneak off to Amanda’s flat in Paris. Peace prevails for a short time until they are back to “tearing each other’s heads off.” At the climax of their fight, their jaded lovers, Sybil and Victor, walk in.

Amanda and Elyot proceed to then work at recovering the trust of their present spouses. This leads Sybil and Victor into a treacherous fight. They are defending their “lovers.” Somehow, in the midst of their fight, Amanda and Elyot forgive one another and slowly sneak out the door.

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