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Toby Stephens wins rave reviews for tackling his father's West End role

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Jul 04, 2013 | 10:50am EDT

British actor Toby Stephens has won praise from theatre critics for his role in a West End revival of a play which once starred his famous parents Dame Maggie Smith and Sir Robert Stephens. Stephens' mother and father won rave reviews for their portrayal of sparring ex-lovers in a 1972 London production of Noel Coward's Private Lives, and now their son has followed in their footsteps by scoring his own glowing write-ups. The Die Another Day star plays the role his father tackled more than 40 years ago in the new production with Anna Chancellor, which opened at London's Gielgud Theatre on Wednesday night (03Jul13), and Henry Hitchings of the London Evening Standard branded the show a "deliciously fresh revival". Hitchings calls Stephens a "superb comic actor" and compares him to Chancellor's Four Weddings and a Funeral co-star Hugh Grant, adding, "I can't recall having seen him give a better performance than he does here." Charles Spencer of Britain's Daily Telegraph gave the play five stars out of five, writing, "This is a gloriously entertaining evening, opulently designed... and offering two hours of comic bliss", while The Independent's Paul Taylor concludes by calling the new production of Private Lives "the best in a decade". Other high-profile stars to have tackled the lead roles in Private Lives include Dame Elizabeth Taylor and her on/off husband Richard Burton. Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West, who are playing the famous couple in a new British TV series, were in the audience for the new show's opening night, and The Wire actor also gave the production a good review, saying, "It was funny... It's the perfect play and they were the perfect people doing it. I've never seen it before so it was great to see it."

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