Another terrific Noël Coward play. After seeing the excellent production of Private Lives I did not have high expectations of a Coward play I’d never heard of but it was quite local so why not? I am so glad I saw it. It is rare to see a comedy where the two main characters are women so I’m happy to report that the two main performances by Jenny Seagrove and Sara Crowe were stunningly good. It has the same three act structure as Private Lives: a first act to set up the awkward situation, a tour-de-force from the two central characters (plus one of Coward’s comedy maids – his weakest point) then a final act to (possibly) wrap things up. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot but please see it for the two central performances alone. I gather it is touring now.
It’s great that the curse of Kenneth Tynan has been lifted. Along with Design for Living and Hay Fever over the last couple of years, this shows what a great playwright Noël Coward was. Like Terence Rattigan who is also back in fashion, his plays may seem like light comedies about people whose lives are irrelevant to us today but this is just the surface. This has plenty of the famous quotes: “Extraordinary how potent cheap music is… very flat, Norfolk,” etc., but underneath this there are complex human relationships. Toby Stephens and Anna Chancellor play the divorced couple who meet again on honeymoon with their new partners; Anna-Louise Plowman and Anthony Calf play their respective new spouses. All four are excellent. We got tickets through a Time Out £10 deal but the £10 tickets are still available on the day.