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Patricia Hodge and Nigel Havers to star in Private Lives

Patricia Hodge and Nigel Havers, Private Lives. Photo credit: John Swannell.

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

DAVID Pugh and Theatre Royal Bath Productions are presenting The Nigel Havers Theatre Company in Noel Coward’s gloriously entertaining Private Lives.

The inaugural show for The Nigel Havers Theatre Company, it will tour the country with a wonderful line-up of theatrical gems.

The plan is that the UK Tour of Private Lives will begin at Theatre Royal Bath on October 1, 2020, before continuing to Norwich, Cheltenham, Newcastle, Cambridge, Richmond (November 10 – 14), Malvern and Leeds, with further dates to be announced.

Award-winning theatre producer David Pugh said of the new company: “Nigel Havers is one of the biggest stars who likes to tour and in the past we have had some incredibly successful partnerships, from Art through to Frank McGuinness’s adaption of Rebecca.

“My suggestion last year to Nigel to form The Nigel Havers Theatre Company was met with a wry smile, but he warmed to the idea and finally agreed that he would take 18 weeks out each year to tour a play, ‘as long as the play is entertaining and, most importantly, ticket prices are accessible to as many people as possible.’”

Pugh continued: “Little did we know last year that this now seems to be more important than ever and, when we are allowed again to safely open theatres, we have to realise theatre can no longer be the luxury item it so often is; theatre should be able to be seen by and be for everybody. Ticket pricing and ticketing charges have become ridiculous. I believe our job is simply to entertain and to as many people as possible and now, out of this crisis, let’s hope we can address this and do just that.”

Coward’s dazzling comic masterpiece is both a scintillatingly witty and scathingly vitriolic study of the rich and reckless in love. Elyot and Amanda, who were once married, find themselves in adjoining rooms in the same hotel on the French Riviera, both on honeymoon with their new partners. Their initial horror quickly evaporates and soon they’re sharing cocktails and a romantic serenade.

The Olivier Award-winning Patricia Hodge OBE will play Amanda, with Nigel Havers as Elyot, the role taken by Noël Coward himself in the original production in 1930. Astonishingly, it is the first time Nigel Havers has appeared in a Coward play on stage.

The cast will also include Dugald Bruce-Lockhart as Victor and Natalie Walter as Sibyl.

Patricia Hodge’s many theatre credits include A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (Trafalgar Studios), Copenhagen (Chichester Festival Theatre), Travels With My Aunt (Minerva, Chichester), Relative Values (Harold Pinter Theatre), Calendar Girls (Noel Coward Theatre), The Country Wife (Theatre Royal Haymarket) and His Dark Materials, Noises Off, Money and A Little Night Music (National Theatre). It was for Money that she won the Olivier for Best Supporting Actress.

Her recent television credits include Ursula Thorpe in A Very English Scandal, Mrs Pelham in Downton Abbey and Penny in Miranda.

Nigel Havers’ television credits include the soon to be seen Finding Alice (as Roger) and General Ransom in the new remake of All Creatures Great and Small. Other recent television credits include Lewis Archer in Coronation Street, Stanley Keen in Benidorm and Lord Hepworth in Downton Abbey. His film credits include playing David Niven in The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, Hofstadter in Paradise Lost, Dr Rawlins in Empire of the Sun and Lord Andrew Lindsay in Chariots of Fire.

Havers’ theatre includes Serge in the UK Tour and West End productions of Art, Algernon Moncrieff in the UK Tour of The Importance of Being Earnest and Maxim de Wynter in the UK Tour of Rebecca.

Dugald Bruce-Lockhart most recently appeared as Michael Gove in The Last Temptation of Boris Johnson at Park Theatre. He has also played David Cameron in The Three Lions (St James Theatre and Edinburgh Festival), for which he was nominated for Best Actor in The Stage Awards.

Other theatre credits include Bill Austin in Mamma Mia! (Novello Theatre), David Hart in Wonderland (Hampstead Theatre), Richard Hannay in The 39 Steps (UK Tour) and, for Ed Hall’s Propeller Theatre Company, he has played the title role in Henry V, Antipholus of Syracuse in Comedy of Errors and Ratcliffe in Richard III.

Natalie Walter’s most recent theatre credits include Pack of Lies and Smash (Menier Chocolate Factory), Jerusalem (Watermill Theatre), 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover (Bush Theatre), The 39 Steps (Criterion Theatre), Hay Fever (Chichester Festival Theatre) and, for the RSC, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Love’s Labour’s Lost. Walter was a regular performer in the CBBC series Horrible Histories.

Produced by David Pugh and Theatre Royal Bath Productions, Private Lives will be directed by Christopher Luscombe, with set and costume designs by Simon Higlett, lighting design by Tim Mitchell and casting by Sarah Bird.

Image: Patricia Hodge and Nigel Havers, Private Lives. Photo credit: John Swannell.