you missed Noel Coward’s “Private Lives” two years ago on Broadway or last month in Exeter (that’s England), you can catch it next week in Lewiston.

It seems there’s been a revival of this classic comedy playing somewhere ever since it was written nearly 80 years ago. Somehow, the British wit of Coward retains its crisp appeal for old and new audiences alike.

For Janet Mitchko, who directs The Public Theatre’s May 7-16 production of this glamorous romp, the play’s secret of success is simple.

“It’s a really well-made comedy,” she said. “It’s a wonderful example of how everyone is capable of wacky behavior.”

In “Private Lives,” Coward teaches us about love, second chances and the often fine line between affection and exasperation.

As the play opens, it’s five years after their bitter divorce, yet it’s love at first fight when Elyot and Amanda meet unexpectedly – while honeymooning with their new spouses. With martini glasses and elegant formal wear, everyone tries to be perfectly proper in an inevitably disastrous situation.

Coward’s wit and repartee sparkle in line after line of delightful dialogue. This remarkable man of many talents was the son of an unsuccessful piano salesman. He had no more than a few years of elementary school education, yet by early adulthood he was internationally recognized as the personification of wit and sophistication. He was successful as a composer, lyricist, actor, singer, director, novelist and painter.

Starring in “Private Lives” are Rachel Harker as the beguiling and beautiful Amanda, and Neil Stewart as her ex-husband, Elyot.

Harker is a familiar face on the Boston theater scene, as well as all over New England, where she has appeared in such roles as Gwendolyn in “The Odd Couple” with Sherman Helmsley, and Elmire in “Tartuffe.”

Stewart’s theatrical resume lists many witty English roles in various regional theaters across the United States and in England. He is a recipient of the Connecticut Critics’ Circle Best Actor award for his title role in “Butley,” and he was the voice of the villain, Lawrence III, in the film “Pokemon 2000.”

Rounding out the cast as the two abandoned spouses are Tarah Flanagan as Sibyl and Bill Mootos as Victor. Flanagan has played various feisty young women in regional theaters around the country since completing her MFA at The Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Mootos is a favorite and familiar face to Boston audiences.

“The humor and fun of this play comes from seeing these beautiful, wealthy, elegantly dressed people from the 1930s behaving with the emotional maturity of a six-year-old,” Mitchko said.

Mitchko said audiences will love the glamorous backdrop of this opulent world created by set designer Dan Bilodeau. Familiar to Public Theatre audiences for his beautiful sets (“Proof” and “Lend Me A Tenor”), Bilodeau brings the romantic and decadent world of Paris and northern France to life.

Creating the luscious yet silly mood of this production is resident lighting designer Bart Garvey and bringing the glamour of the 1930s style to life is recent “Orphans” and “Gun-Shy” costume designer Kathleen Brown.

Performances are May 7-9 and 13-16. There will be an exclusive performance May 6 for participants in the Governor’s Blaine House Conference on Maine’s Creative Economy. A free post-show discussion will follow the Sunday, May 9, performance.


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