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By Evie Bonnevier Lindblom - Reporter. May 11, 2018 - 9:00 am
The Paul and Vi Loo Theatre came alive with the dazzling production Private Lives by Noel Coward. The one-act show was directed by Hawai‘i Pacific University’s (HPU) Eden Lee Murray, adjunct professor of theatre, who brought the fast-paced exquisite comedy to success.
Based in the 1930s, Noel Coward’s flawless masterpiece shines a light on the social norms of old England, where a person’s accent determines their social class. The script itself offers a comic rhythm laced with cruelty, which creates opportunity for effortless hilarity.
The plot is a symmetrical set-up between two newly wed couples with irony embedded in the story; Amanda and Elyot, a divorced couple, were on the same honeymoon with their new partners, Victor and Sibyl.
Murray gave the one-act play the hyper-realistic flare it needed to reach its hysterical brilliance. The cast was fitting, and the audience could feel the chemistry vibrating between them on stage. Elyot, played by Rob Duval, and Amanda, played by Chelsea Patton, stood out from the commencement of the show, as their institution in terms of character development were impressive.
Patton, usually dedicated to HPU Athletics behind closed curtains, sparkled on stage as Amanda. Before her lead role in Private Lives, Patton had no acting experience and had never been involved in the arts.
Mark Bush as Victor, Isabelle Pawlak as Sibyl and Elizabeth Young as Louise were all in sync through their immaculate precision and timing of delivery and innovative yet cursive movements. The cast flourished in keeping the audience intrigued for the two and a half hour duration of the performance with uncontrollable laughter filling the theatre.
Murray’s primary challenge during early production was “to get them [the cast] all in the same fabric that Noel Coward intended.” She explained how working with younger actors can be difficult when facing such hyper-realistic dialect work that was necessary to bring “Private Lives” to life.
Murray emphasized how proud she was of the cast with just ten days to lift the production with last-minute casting changes into a successful performance.
As Murray carefully explained the production, “The thing that is beautiful about this is that you are creating a sufflé. What these guys do, together, beautifully, is to create a sufflé. And the risk is if somebody drops along… the sufflé sinks.”
Murray compared the production to the French dessert that takes time, skill and the right ingredients to master the sweet or savory dish.
Eden is hopeful more HPU students, who have any interest in theatre, will get involved in the upcoming fall production.