Theater: High on Gin and Sin

Noel Coward pours the froth of inflection as if it were the champagne of wit. He is a connoisseur of surfaces, a sealer of the comic Everests of trivia. His plays are echo chambers of his own voice. His cool, clipped speech serves as an ironically British parody of the stiff upper lip.

Private Lives epitomizes these characteristics. It is 40 years old and as young as tomorrow evening. The present production is stylish, smart, and bubbles with frivolity. Coward creates the aura of anticipatory delight. Momentarily, one expects something scandalous to be said,...

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