Music Box Theatre
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Kim Cattrall’s talent goes far beyond her ability to make censors squirm, said David Rooney in The Hollywood Reporter. Cattrall is a regular in London’s West End, yet her reputation is inextricably tied to the six seasons she spent playing Samantha, a “man-hungry gargoyle,” on TV’s Sex and the City. It’s gratifying to see her completely shed that persona here, in Noël Coward’s 1930 comedy about a divorced couple who fall in love again while on honeymoons with their new spouses. Sultry without being vulgar, Cattrall’s nuanced Amanda has “odd, unexpectedly humanizing glimmers of a common touch” beneath her cosmopolitan veneer. And when the events turn farcical, Cattrall channels Carole Lombard, or at least her ability to “combine poise with blithely inelegant physical comedy.”
“She is not, however, an ideal Amanda,” said Terry Teachout in The Wall Street Journal. Cattrall may have “terrific chemistry” with her counterpart, Paul Gross, but Cattrall “makes no secret of being 55,” and Coward meant this as a comedy about “bright young things.” It’s also unfortunate that director Richard Eyre doesn’t completely let the exes loose in the “knock-down-drag-out fight that ends the second act.” As Amanda and Elyot (Gross) demolish the “spectacular” set, there’s a feeling that the actors are pacing themselves. That “can’t be right.”
The Punch and Judy scenes at least aid the cast as they “make a case for romantic farce as the flip side of romantic tragedy,” said Ben Brantley in The New York Times. Coward “saw passion as a disruptive force,” and it’s “precisely because Amanda and Elyot are so magnetically drawn to each other that they become so combative.” They never confront that fact gloomily, however, because their deepest bond is a shared belief “that life (and death) is too damn serious to be taken seriously.” That “deep and sincere flippancy” explains why “the bubbly pleasures” of this 80-year-old play will never go flat.
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