This particular Private Lives comes from a set called The Noel Coward Collection and was done in 1976.
As has been mentioned, the play has been done countless times with some of the greats playing the roles.It has been on Broadway eight times, including the U.S. premiere with Gertrude Lawrence, Noel Coward, Laurence Olivier, and Jill Esmond. What I wouldn't give to have seen that, but by now I'd probably be dead.
I had the good fortune to see Alan Rickman and Lindsay Duncan as Elyot and Amanda. They and the sets were absolute perfection.
Private Lives is the story of a divorced couple, married to others, who meet again on their honeymoons and take off together.
The 1976 TV production was a little disappointing after seeing Rickman and Duncan. Part of the problem is exactly that, it was made for TV. This is, first and foremost, a play that needs big performances, and big performances don't come off well on television.
Penelope Keith was a very good Amanda, though, as noted, she did not have the right sexual essence for Amanda, and Alec McCowen seemed miscast as Elyot, ill-matched with Keith, who gives a fiery performance. Having said that, he was still good. Frankly with such great dialogue, it's kind of hard to be bad.
Other Broadway Amandas have included Tallulah Bankhead, Tammy Grimes (with Brian Bedford), Maggie Smith, Taylor & Burton (a disaster), Joan Collins, Duncan-Rickman, and Kim Cattrell (with Paul Gross).
One would think all Burton and Taylor had to do was play themselves but according to Frank Rich's review, they looked and acted "whipped and depressed." That's not how one should feel during and after "Private Lives."
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