IT IS nearly 90 years since Noel Coward’s Private Lives opened up on the London stage.

Over that time the story which has various types of love at the heart of it has enthralled audiences across the world, while its razor-sharp dialogue and small cast of five make it one of the more attractive for regional touring companies to put on.

The latest version from London Classic Theatre was well received when it was brought to Worthing’s Connaught Theatre. It opens with a divorced couple who, while honeymooning with their new spouses, discover they are staying in adjacent rooms at the same French hotel.

Despite a perpetually stormy relationship, they realise that they still have feelings for each other. Cue all manner of romancing, rowdy arguments and wringing of necks.

Helen Keeley who plays the main female protagonist Amanda Prynne was excellent as the strong-minded lead while Olivia Beardsley (Sibyl Chase) was very convincing as slightly ditzy new wife of Amanda’s ex Elyot.

But while the farcical first act of discovery was strong, the remainder of the play – featuring much fondling and fighting between both couples – just petered out.

In this current climate of female empowerment, the scenes of domestic violence more shocked than amused the audience.

Could it be after 90 years that Coward’s tour-de-force is nearing the end of its touring days?