Joan Collins Falls Short in 'Private Lives'

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PRIVATE LIVES Comedy by Noel Coward. Directed by Arvin Brown. Starring Joan Collins and Simon Jones. At the Broadhurst Theater through April 5.

JOAN COLLINS has brought her Amanda Prynne to Broadway following a six-month London run and an extensive American tour. Which may in part explain why her performance seems a trifle lackluster. Equally relevant could be Miss Collins's approach to the part of Coward's flippant 1930s egoist. A Playbill note quotes the British star as follows:

I'd say that what I want to bring to [the part], particularly for American audiences, is a sense of reality. You must believe that the character is a real person and not a brittle cardboard cutout. The lines are very frivolous, although there's a great kernel of truth in many of them. Amanda is an incurable romantic and extremely mischievous and has a great feminist approach to life. She believes that women are as free and equal as men, and I think that for something written in the '30s that is a kind of

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avant-garde attitude."

Reconciling such an approach to Amanda's airy insouciance becomes a challenge that Collins hasn't completely met. It could be argued that the role doesn't carry so much weight. There are, nevertheless, rewards and pleasures in the posturing performance staged by Arvin Brown. Simon Jones's Elyot Chase proves a match in repartee and determination for the spouse he would reclaim. Jill Tasker is particularly silly and even affecting as poor little chirpy Sybil, and Edward Duke's stiff-as-a-poker Victor offer s a ready target of opportunity for Cowardish barbs. Margie Rynn's French maid completes the cast.

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