August 30, 1998
How has the fascination with the private lives of public officials affected you? How will it affect the way you vote in the future? What you look for in a candidate? How you judge the news and commentaries you read or listen to? Send essays of 300 words by Sept. 11 to Community Voices/Private Lives to the addresses listed in the Where to Write box above. Questions? Call Kevin Ferris, readers' editor, at 215-854-4543.
September 17, 1998 |
One night in a Tokyo hotel room in 1929, unable to sleep, Noel Coward had a vision of Gertrude Lawrence in a ravishing dress. She "refused to go again until 4 a.m.," Coward wrote in his memoirs, "by which time Private Lives, title and all, had constructed itself. " Shortly afterward, in Hong Kong, the actor-playwright wrote out the play in four days, and, within months, he and "Gertie" were performing it in London's West End. Thus, seemingly without effort, was born one of the most exquisitely fashioned comedies in the English-speaking theater.
January 24, 2015 |
Noel Coward's delectable 1930 comedy Private Lives , now at the Walnut Street Theatre, is what every romcom aspires to be: laugh-out-loud funny, sexy, rambunctious, and complete with a happy ending preceded by bad behavior. Here are characters whose dialogue is clever and naughty as opposed to their contemporary versions, who often seem dopey and vulgar. The play requires everyone to be veddy, veddy English, knowing all the while that it is all veddy veddy. Here's the setup: Amanda (Kathleen Wallace)
March 31, 1991 |
Out of the blue, Janice Bone was fired. Two officials at the Ford Meter Box Co. in Wabash, Ind., where Bone had recently been promoted to payroll clerk, pulled her aside and escorted her from the plant. She was told not to return. The apparent reason: A company drug test found nicotine in her urine. Bone, it seems, was a smoker. Granted, she did not smoke on the job, but that really didn't matter to the Ford Meter Box Co. Its policy barred her from smoking at all. "I was very shocked.
August 13, 1992
We can think of only one happy consequence regarding the silly, petty, demeaning flap over whether President Bush once upon a time trysted in a Swiss chalet with a female aide. It may cause, finally, the sleaze merchants in the media - and in the Bush campaign, as well - to sit down and shut up. We said it when Bill Clinton was hit by his "bimbo eruption" in New Hampshire, and we say it again now: The most telling standard of character for a candidate for public office is the conduct of his or her public life.
February 21, 1992 |
It's a tribute to the everlasting wit and wisdom of Private Lives that the play survives the production that opened last night at the Broadhurst Theatre. That's not to say that the tone, the world view, or the characters at the Broadhurst bear much resemblance to what Noel Coward had in mind when he wrote the play back in 1930. It is to say that even as I totted up the deficiencies of this revival, which stars Joan Collins and Simon Jones, I found myself laughing a lot more than seemed appropriate under the circumstances.
June 10, 1987 |
A story told on the diplomatic circuit involves a married French diplomat who had an affair in Moscow with a female KGB agent. One day, her dour boss appeared at the Frenchman's doorstep with the usual scandalous pictures - a prelude to a blackmail demand. The diplomat studied the photos for a moment and then said, "I will take two of zees, three of zees and one of zees" - and with a nonchalant shrug closed the door. Americans have no such blase attitude toward extramarital sex. Accusations of such shenanigans tumbled Gary Hart from his perch as the Democratic front- runner to just another guy peddling a book in New York.
September 3, 1997 |
The response of the American media to the death of Princess Diana seems not only excessive but grotesque. What is it about this young woman's brief life that could possibly justify the virtually nonstop coverage the mainstream news media have devoted to her death? The Sunday morning news programs could talk of little else. From ABC's This Week to CBS' 60 Minutes to CNN's Crossfire, the networks treated Diana's passing as if a head of state had died. In the hours following her death, cable news outlets ran round-the-clock coverage, with one network giving 15-minute "news updates" throughout the day. Another ran video footage of her 1981 wedding, itself a voyeuristic media orgy.
June 12, 2000 |
'Couples" has been going for a little more than a year and a half now. We've met 75 pairs so far, introduced by 38 different writers. Quite a chronicle. With about 25 couples left, it's time for a midcourse report. I've got a secret: The whole series is one big argument about human nature and what happened to it in the 20th century. That's why it's on the Commentary Page. Something did happen, something decisive, most visible in the way one person collaborates with another. Let's build it, theme by theme.
September 26, 1995 |
Noel Coward wrote Private Lives in 1929 in four days in Shanghai while recovering from a bout of flu. When it opened in London the following year, with Gertrude Lawrence starring as Amanda and Coward himself as Elyot, it was considered daring as well as funny, with one critic scoring what he called its "disgusting exhibition of moral and social decadence. " By now, the shock element is long gone. The social and religious agnosticism at the heart of the comedy, including the conceit of a divorced couple reuniting and "living in sin," seems tame, even unexceptional.