Private Lives at Everyman

1727 N. Charles St., http://everymantheatre.org, (410) 752-2208

Noel Coward's comedies have not worn well, and audiences have sat through too many tired productions where talented actors, designers, and directors do competent work with nothing to show for it but a few chuckles and polite applause. To reinvigorate Coward, you have to dig beneath the characters' apparently complacent sophistication to the desperation below, to the realization that they're lying not only to each other but also to themselves. That's what director Carl Schurr achieved with Private Lives last winter at the Everyman Theatre, pulling astonishing performances from Bruce Nelson and Deborah Hazlett as ex-spouses who bump into each other on their rebound honeymoons. They kept bumping-violently, angrily, magnetically.

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