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Interview with Olivia Beardsley from the cast of Private Lives

Private Lives - Olivia Beardsley as Sibyl
Private Lives – Olivia Beardsley as Sibyl

London Classic Theatre’s production of Noël Coward’s comedy masterpiece, Private Lives has its UK Tour from 16th January to 21st April 2018. Olivia Beardsley and Helen Keeley return to the production as Sibyl Chase and Amanda Prynne and are joined by three new cast members, Gareth Bennett-Ryan (Elyot Chase), Paul Sandys (Victor Prynne) and Rachael Holmes-Brown (Louise). The production tours to 16 venues, opening at the Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford on 16th January, and concluding the run at the Coventry Belgrade Theatre on 21st April 2018.

1930. Deauville, France. Two newly-married couples occupy adjoining honeymoon suites in the same hotel. As a distant orchestra plays, Sibyl gazes adoringly at charismatic husband Elyot, while Victor admires his new wife, the vivacious and sophisticated Amanda. Champagne flows and the sea shimmers in the moonlight as the newlyweds prepare for the evening ahead. But when Amanda overhears a familiar voice singing a forgotten song, an old spark reignites, with spectacular consequences.

Full of razor-sharp wit and quick-fire dialogue, Private Lives is Noël Coward’s most popular and enduring stage comedy. Extraordinarily written in only three days, Private Lives opened at London’s Phoenix Theatre in August 1930 to packed houses. Since then, this charming comedy of manners has retained its remarkable appeal, captivating audiences all over the world.

Olivia Beardsley recently answered a few questions that we put to her:

Q: What attracted you to be a part of this production?
Olivia: Noel Coward’s writing is so witty, daring, intelligent and packed with material to sink your teeth into, which is very attractive as an actor. The characters, although they are within a heightened scenario are essentially very real and it is fascinating to watch these people, from a bygone era behave in their ‘private lives’ just as we do now. No matter who you are or when you lived, people feel and act out their private impulses in the same way as we do now.

Q: How have rehearsals been?
Olivia: Rehearsals are always an incredibly enjoyable part of the process for me. It’s been wonderful to see the characters come to life once more, as this is the second leg of our UK tour, watching the new members of the company inhabit their roles, bringing new, exciting energies to the parts has, in turn, opened me up to finding new things within Sybil, which is always so enjoyable when working on a project for a length of time.

Q: Do you have a set process for learning your lines and getting into your character?
Olivia: I use an app on my phone to learn my lines, I record lines into it and listen back, talking along to it. All actors are very different in how they respond best to line learning whether it be audibly, visually or by writing them down.

For me, the process of getting into character begins in warm up when I begin to contact Sybil’s vocal range/qualities and then most importantly by putting on her costume and hair/makeup.

Q: Can you tell us about your character and how they fit into the storyline?
Olivia: Sybil is the young new wife of the dashing Elyot Chase. She desperately wants their honeymoon to be perfect, leading to a perfect marriage with the perfect man and will do all she can to ensure she is the perfect wife. When Elyot bumps into his ex-wife, also on her honeymoon with her new husband, passion and drama ensue. Sybil’s idyllic view of life and love is thrown into chaos, the perfect facade she has constructed begins to crack…

How does it feel to be performing in one of Noel Coward’s classics?
Olivia: It feels great! It’s great fun, the pace is wonderful and being able to share this story with our audiences is an absolute joy.

Q: Likes and dislikes of touring?
Olivia: It is great to be able to bring theatre to many different places, not just major cities. The theatres all over the country are absolutely beautiful and to be able to perform in so many different spaces for so many different communities is wonderful. We get to see such beautiful parts of the UK and meet amazing people. I also love train travel so I don’t have too many dislikes of the whole process. Being away from friends and family for longer periods would be the hardest thing.

Q: Do you have a routine before a performance?
Olivia: I start to prep for a performance about 2 hours before. I do a vocal and physical warm up and then begin the process of Sybil’s hairstyle and makeup. And a cup of tea. Always a cup of tea!

Q: Why should everyone get along to see this production of Private Lives?
Olivia: Because Coward was the most wonderful writer. I am constantly laughing backstage listening to his words, hearing new things. The story resonates today and is interesting and exciting but also allows an escape, a little holiday away to a different time.


Olivia Beardsley plays Sibyl Chase. She returns to London Classic Theatre having previously appeared in its UK tour of The Collector. Other theatre credits include Brimstone and Treacle (Hope Theatre), Secret Santa (Arts Theatre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Centennial Park Open Air Theatre, Sydney), and Charcoal Creek (Merrigong Theatre Company). Film credits include The Babadook.

London Classic Theatre presents
Private Lives
By Noël Coward
Directed by Michael Cabot; Designed by Frankie Bradshaw; Lighting by Andy Grange
UK tour: 16 January – 21 April 2018
Facebook: LondonClassicTheatre
Twitter: @londonclassic1

Private Lives (Modern Plays) Kindle Edition


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