MELANIE MINTY: Honeymooners search for happiness in ‘Private Lives’ comedy

Noel Coward play staged at White Rock's Coast Capital Playhouse until end of April

Dann Wilhelm and Lauren Morrow star in “Private Lives,” a Noel Coward play at White Rock’s Coast Capital Playhouse this month.

Dann Wilhelm and Lauren Morrow star in “Private Lives,” a Noel Coward play at White Rock’s Coast Capital Playhouse this month.

WHITE ROCK — Private Lives, a play written by Noel Coward, opens at White Rock’s Coast Capital Playhouse this week. This is White Rock Players’ spring show and, according to director Marko Holhbein, it is a witty and brilliant comedy of manners. Even though this play was written in 1930, Hohlbein feels it reflects the “entitled generation” that is as evident today as it was during the years of the Great Depression. It evokes a carefree decadence and discontent.

This is the second time Marko has taken the helm as director for White Rock Players. He’s glad to be back after directing “Enchanted April” for Langley Players (it just closed a successful run). “The crew is fabulous in White Rock,” Hohlbein is prompt to point out. By that, he means all the people behind the scenes. It’s the work and effort that goes on off the stage that makes a unique and rewarding theatre experience. It’s all the people, not just the actors on stage.

Of course, the final result is all about the actors on stage. Jennifer Lane, Lauren Morrow and Tomas Gamba all hail from Surrey. Krystle Hadlow is from White Rock, and Dann Wilhelm is now from Langley. That’s the cast for Private Lives. Regular theatre-goers will be more used to seeing Dann, Jennifer and Krystle in musicals and pantos. Their musical skills are needed though, as I understand there is some song-and-dance as part of this play. This entire cast has impressive bios, with convincing credits and achievements. And there it is: fabulous crew, competent actors, successful director. It is a hit.

Hohlbein believes Private Lives is one of the best and most entertaining plays written by Coward (pictured). “It is both a challenge and a thrill to direct this play,” he says.

Well, that is just like Marko, I must say. He loves this kind of challenge, and he will have gotten inside each actor’s head to find the truth and honesty in each performance. It is real, even though it is just a play put on for entertainment. Ah, the genius of Coward.

Just in case you need the plot to convince you to go see this production, here it is: Elyot and Amanda, once married and now honeymooning with new spouses at the same hotel, meet by chance, reignite the old spark and impulsively elope. After days of being reunited, they again find their fiery romance alternating between passions of love and anger. Their aggrieved spouses appear, and a roundelay of affiliations ensues as the women first stick together, then move apart, and new partnerships are formed. These people are all still well-off, even after the crash of 1929, and their main concern is how to fill the day.

Explained Hohlbein: “Like today’s spoiled, expectant generation, they have it all, yet are never happy together, never happy apart. That is to say in this version we will see a sleek modern couple under the weight of carefree decadence and discontent.

From April 13 to 30, Private Lives runs Wednesdays to Sundays at Coast Capital Playhouse, 1532 Johnston Rd., White Rock. Evening show times are 8 p.m., with Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for Wednesday performances, and range from $19 to $22 for all other performances. For tickets and more info, visit or call 604-536-7535.


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