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Milford Haven’s Torch Theatre is preparing for an injection of 1930s glamour this Autumn thanks to new Artistic Director Chelsey Gillard’s choice of first production since succeeding Peter Doran. Intent on providing audiences with a glamorous night of hilarity to lift gloomy October days, Gillard has departed from her usual genre of new writing to inject a modern twist to Noël Coward’s comedic masterpiece, Private Lives. The explosive dark comedy promises audiences a hilarious night out with its timelessly witty dissection of sex, marriage and social convention with some all too familiar nuances of bad behaviour.   

Not only does Private Lives mark Chelsey’s directorial debut for the Torch, but it also reflects the broad-appeal, engaging and modern direction she is keen to bring in her new role.   

Chelsey said:   

“I have long admired the work of Peter Doran and the Torch team. I am privileged to continue looking for new ways to innovate and reach out to audiences, participants and artists across Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire and beyond. Our modern take on Private Lives will, I hope, appeal to a wide range of people - my industry colleagues may be surprised by my choice of play and I’m looking forward to sharing this excitingly saucy and funny production alongside a terrific team of actors, designers and crew!   

“Our aim is to give people a great night out – we are even hosting themed lunches with live songs from the era for those keen for some added glamour. We would love to see audiences dressed up in 1930s costume ready to sip their Martini and be immersed in Designer Kevin Jenkins’ spectacular art deco set – it’s going to wow audiences and transport us all to a most decadent era - perfect escapism from a gloomy Autumn day!”  

Following the antics of a divorced couple who end up in neighbouring hotel rooms while on honeymoon with their new partners, this much-loved comedy of manners is still so relevant, 100 years after it was first written. However, appearances can be deceptive and there is much going on beneath the surface which sparks an interesting conversation about today’s culture and the sometimes-biased behavioural standards we set.   

Chelsey explained:  

“The characters in this play who charm us and provide so much entertainment are also shockingly behaved and self-possessed. Violence emerges as a counterpart to the mindless lust and the three-act play takes audiences on a sharp love-hate ride.   

“Today, the newspapers are still bursting with scandals and as a society we devour the details of high profile fall-outs. For example, the recent media storm surrounding Johnny Depp and Amber Heard presented both for having behaved appallingly but public reaction was mixed - do we overlook wrongdoings by those we admire? It echoes the legendary Private Lives production starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor – audiences at the time were captivated by the scandalous parallels between their characters and their own off-screen antics. I hope our show sparks an interesting look at who we allow to charm us and that what you see, is not always what you get!”  

Private Lives has a three-week run at Torch Theatre, Milford Haven, opening on Wednesday 4th October (press night Thursday 5th) until Saturday 21 October and is proud to be part of the Coward Foundation’s COWARD125 Festival, a two-year celebration of Noël Coward’s extraordinary life in the lead-up to Coward's 125th birthday in 2024.   

To book tickets, visit the Torch Theatre Box Office Or call or visit the Box Office on01646 695267.


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