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Nigel Havers and Patricia Hodge star in Noël Coward’s Private Lives at the Marlowe Theatre


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Two stellar stars of the stage and screen will take to the stage in Kent for a series of firsts.

Nigel Havers and Patricia Hodge lead the cast of Noël Coward’s classic comedy, Private Lives, which is the Nigel Havers Theatre Company’s inaugural production and comes to the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury.

Patricia Hodge and Nigel Havers star Picture: Tristram Kenton
Patricia Hodge and Nigel Havers star Picture: Tristram Kenton

It will be Nigel’s first appearance in a Coward play on stage, and it's also the first time the pair, who are both household names with accolades ranging from Olivier Awards to Coronation Street credits to their names, have ever acted together.

The show tells the story of Elyot and Amanda, who were once married. They find themselves in adjoining rooms in the same hotel on the French coast, both on honeymoon with their new partners.

Their initial horror quickly evaporates and soon they’re sharing cocktails and a romantic serenade.

Olivier Award-winning Patricia will appear as Amanda while Nigel plays Elyot, the role taken by Noël Coward himself in the original production in 1930.

Nigel says: “It’s a very funny play about love and friendship, so I hope audiences are going to enjoy themselves. Goodness knows I think we’re all really ready to enjoy ourselves.”

Patricia Hodge and Nigel Havers will star in Noel Coward's Private Lives Picture: Tristram Kenton
Patricia Hodge and Nigel Havers will star in Noel Coward's Private Lives Picture: Tristram Kenton
Patricia Hodge and Nigel Havers on stage Picture:Tristram Kenton
Patricia Hodge and Nigel Havers on stage Picture:Tristram Kenton

“Coward would love all this attention after nearly 100 years!” he adds, "which is a mark of how good his plays are.”

Or as Coward himself once famously said: ‘I'm an enormously talented man, and there's no use pretending that I'm not.’

The touring production, directed by Coward connoisseur Christopher Luscombe, comes to Canterbury on Tuesday, January 18.

“Fortunately I don’t mind touring, and my wife always comes with me," says Nigel. "She always says that she can only see the play once, and so after she’s seen it she goes off sightseeing. There are so many wonderful towns and theatres. You do get to see such lovely places on tour.

“There is something so utterly emotionally pleasurable about playing regional theatres,” adds Patricia. “You feel as if you are speaking directly to the audiences. Canterbury I’ve only played twice, but it is a lovely theatre and a really special city. It is always an absolute pleasure to be there.”

The pair have not acted together before, though they have known eachother for years Picture: Tristram Kenton
The pair have not acted together before, though they have known eachother for years Picture: Tristram Kenton

“I’ve never done a Coward play before,” Nigel confesses. “So many wonderful actors have played these parts and so I’ve always managed to avoid it. But as you get older you don’t care so much [if comparisons are made] and I just thought let’s go for it. It is such a wonderful play.”

Private Lives will be at The Marlowe Theatre from Tuesday, January 18 to Saturday, January 22. Book tickets here or call 01227 787787.

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