The first thing I said to my friend during the interval of Private Lives at the Donmar Warehouse was, ‘I don’t remember this being a play about domestic violence’. We’d just witnessed Elyot (Stephen Mangan) and Amanda (Rachael Stirling) having a physical fight which included Elyot grabbing Amanda by the throat and throwing her onto a sofa.
The sun is setting on Michael Longhurst’s time at the Donmar Warehouse and his penultimate production is a timeless classic, Noel Coward’s sparky and charismatic relationship comedy about middle aged love, Private Lives, a fairly safe bet which this century alone has resulted in some great comic pairings from Alan Rickman and Lindsay Duncan to Toby Stephens and Anna Chancellor. But Coward’s work is tricky to get right and it always looks far easier than it really is.
Emma Rice’s adaptation of Brief Encounter certainly adds a fresh look at the 1945 British romantic film directed by David Lean, which had originally been adapted from the Noël Coward play of 1936, Still Life.
I don’t always make it through the Oxfordshire lanes to the gorgeous, eccentric, water-wheeled Mill at Sonning, but the thought of Issy van Randwyck as Judith Bliss in Hay Fever lured me. Caught the show en route to the airport, so I started writing this on a Croatian long-distance bus.
Seeing Hay Fever at the lovely Mill at Sonning, not far from the Thames-side village Cookham, where Coward’s play is actually set, feels almost like immersive theatre. It also feels a little like stepping back in time to a gentler era. Some people may find it a little staid, but it’s not hard to see why it proves so perennially popular.
Christopher Luscombe directs this stellar new touring production of Noel Coward’s classic comedy, with Nigel Havers and Patricia Hodges as ex-spouses Elyot and Amanda.
Written and premiered in the early 1940s while WW2 raged on and the prospect of losing a precious loved one at short notice felt like a very real possibility, Noël Coward’s ghostly comedy is, perhaps not surprisingly, the first of ‘The Master’s plays to be seen in the West End post-pandemic.
In Richard Eyre’s briskly directed production Jennifer Saunders stands out. Her Arcati is draggled but not cartoonish: donnishly dishevelled, earnestly scholarly rather than exaggeratedly nuts.
In the last 30 years or more, roughly half of every new musical that arrives on Broadway or in the West End seems to be based on a film.
A Marvellous Party, commissioned by the Noël Coward Foundation, ostensibly marks the centenary of Coward’s first appearance on stage and has been produced to raise funds for actors on both sides of the Atlantic who are struggling with the effects of the pandemic.
Actor Nigel Havers is launching his own touring company with a new production of Noel Coward’s classic comedy Private Lives, in which he’ll star with Patricia Hodge.
A fascinating historical curio, Sasha Regan’s production Peace In Our Time is also a fine piece of speculative drama, imbued with Coward’s gift for eloquence and waspishness.
Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews for the London transfer of Richard Eyre’s production of Noel Coward’s comedy Blithe Spirit.
The psychology of Blithe Spirit snaps convincingly into place in Richard Eyre’s production while at the same time it fully utilises every opportunity to make the audience laugh.
The pace of the cast members’ dialogue and interaction with each other is almost always spot on in Blithe Spirit.
Noël Coward’s classic comedy Blithe Spirit, directed by Richard Eyre and starring Jennifer Saunders, will return next year for a UK tour followed by a strictly limited six-week engagement at the West End’s Duke of York’s Theatre following a celebrated reception at the Theatre Royal Bath earlier this summer.
Tam Williams’ production of Private Lives at the Mill at Sonning is clean and crisp, nicely framed with a lady accordoniste setting the location, and after a slowish start the piece moves up a gear in the scenes involving all four characters, and especially in two well-choreographed fights.
First of all let’s say that Andrew Scott is a marvel in Present Laughter, a 21st century Ur-Coward hero, who manages to do it without either the matey crassness lately inflicted on the part by Rufus Hound, or that retro, clipped Cowardspeak which echoes the Master too much.
Noël Coward would have thoroughly approved of Andrew Scott’s gloriously outrageous turn as ageing matinée idol, Garry Essendine, in The Old Vic’s reinvention of Present Laughter.
The Old Vic’s production of Present Laughter finally feels as though we’re shaking off some of the restraints that have shackled Noel Coward to the past.