Noël Coward’s delightfully decadent Private Lives is the inaugural show from The Nigel Havers Theatre Company and what a stage debut it is.

The production stars Olivier Award-winning Patricia Hodge as Amanda and Nigel Havers as Elyot.

The bickering bourgeois pair, who were once married, find themselves on honeymoon with their new partners, in the same hotel on the French Riviera, admiring the view from adjoining balconies.

Their initial horror quickly evaporates and soon they are sharing cocktails and a romantic serenade.

Havers' characterisation of ageing dandy Elyot - complete with Coward-esque dressing gown - delighted the audience for two very fast hours.

Hodge's razor wit and scene-stealing comedic timing quickened the pace further.

The comedy duo is joined by Dugald Bruce-Lockhart as Victor - Amanda's new husband, who is a dreadful bore and insecure man's man - and Natalie Walter as Elyot's much younger and much more whiny new wife, Sibyl.

The cast is completed by Aicha Kossoko as Louise, Amanda's hapless French maid in the third act.

Both Havers and Hodge performed with charming chemistry and elegant energy. The pair ought to be commended for bringing so much vibrancy to characters who are somewhat long in the tooth. Both actors proved there are still moments to be had centre stage.

Director Christopher Luscombe made fantastic use of space on the stage, perfectly highlighting moments of tension and tenderness.

Bruce-Lockheart's stiff stuffed shirt rendition of Victor contrasted well with the virile Amanda, and Walter's possessive and shrieking Sibyl played off perfectly against aloof man-about-town Elyot.

Eastern Daily Press: Patricia Hodge's sharp wit plays off against Nigel Havers' camp callousness in Private Lives, which runs at Norwich Theatre Royal until April 2.Patricia Hodge's sharp wit plays off against Nigel Havers' camp callousness in Private Lives, which runs at Norwich Theatre Royal until April 2. (Image: Tristram Kenton)

The sets - designed by Simon Higlett - were well-dressed and used incredibly well by all. Amanda's Parisian art deco apartment was truly impressive and enviable.

Mark Jonathon created a tremendous sense of mood and atmosphere through his use of lighting throughout the French Riviera scenes.

Overall, this production was a laugh-a-minute affair, granting the audience access to the private lives of the reckless and rich - without fear of consequence.

A remarkable achievement for all involved in the production, but of course, Havers and Hodge deserve the highest praise for their outstanding portrayal of two loveable rogues.

From the first laugh to the last, this is unmissable.

Runs until Saturday, April 2.