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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Private Lives (STC)

Bianca Amato and James Waterston

Saw it at Shakespeare Theatre Company in town today. I love it. Indeed I prefer it to "The Important of Being Earnest," which is more famous but a bit too classically farcical for me. This, oh, this oozes irony! Such merciless depiction of --- no, attack on --- romantic relationships and marriage.

I have a weakness for this particular brand of cynicism, perhaps because of an early inoculation with Maugham's stories. Looking back, perhaps chick lit would have been more suitable brain food for a girl in puberty, but that's all too late now. Anyway, the attitude might be bred in a specific time and place, namely early twentieth century Britain. Maugham, Noel Coward, Terence Rattigan, preceded by Wilde, more or less belong to the same group. Shaw belonged to the same period and also had the biting wit, but his concerns were rather quite different (because he was not homosexual?).

"Private Lives" is claustrophobic, and that is Coward's point about monogamous marriage. Indeed a passionate, smothering, consuming great love cannot survive such an institution, as anyone who has been married for love knows. I think we can all recognize and identify with the "concentrated" study of a marriage.

Before it started I saw in the playbill that the lead actor was named James Waterston. I wondered about his relation with Sam Waterston. The moment he came out I laughed. There was no mistaken that nose and that profile. He had to be the son.

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