Containing Coward's best work from the last two decades of his life, this volume includes Relative Values, which ran for over a year in 1951-2, Look After Lulu (1959), his perennially popular Feydeau adaptation, Waiting in the Wings (1960), a bravura piece set in a home for retired actresses, and Suite in Three Keys (1965), a trilogy of plays which gave Coward his last roles on stage. The volume is introduced by Sheridan Morley, Coward's first biographer, and includes an extensive chronology of Coward's work.
In studying performances of marriage in modern and contemporary British and American drama, Clum highlights the fact that - paradoxically - at a time when theatre was both popular entertainment and high culture, many of the most commercially and artistically successful plays about marriage were written by homosexual men. Beginning with Oscar Wilde and focusing on some of the most successful British and American playwrights of the past century, including Somerset Maugham, Noël Coward, Terence Rattigan, and Emlyn Williams in England and Clyde Fitch, George Kelly, Tennessee Williams, William Inge, and Edward Albee in the US, The Drama of Marriagelooks at how the plays they wrote about heterosexual marriage continue to impact contemporary gay playwrights and the depiction of marriage today.
Volume Four of Noël Coward's plays contains a selection of Coward's plays from the thirties and forties which includes Blithe Spirit, a comedy that centres around the spirit medium Madame Arcati. The play that mocks sudden death was produced at precisely the moment when bombs were bringing it to Britain "I shall ever be grateful, for the almost psychic gift that enabled me to write Blithe Spirit in five days during one of the darkest years of the war." The play was for years the longest-running comedy in the history of British theatre. Present Laughter follows the life of Garry Essendine, a world-weary, middle-aged projection of the dilettante, debonair persona - self-obsessed and dressing-gowned who struts through the play like an educated peacock. It is a comedy about the 'theatricals' that Noël best knew and loved, and was originally a star vehicle for himself. It is the closest to an autobiographical play that Coward ever wrote. This Happy Breed is a saga of a lower middle-class family; and three shorter pieces fromTonight at 8.30 - is a farce set in the South of France, and serves as an oblique tribute to Frederick Lonsdale; The Astonished Heart is about the decay of a psychiatrist's mind through personal sexual obsession. Red Peppers, which closes the volume, was a cynical tribute to the lost music halls of the First World War.
Offers twenty-six essays commissioned by the publisher to add coverage of important writers not included in original British Council's pamphlet series and includes a comprehensive index to all works and writers examined in the series.
Mad Dogs and Englishmen, Don't Put your Daughter on the Stage, Mrs Worthington and over 250 more lyrics from Coward's musical masterpieces. Noël Coward is one of the greatest lyricists of the twentieth century. Songs such as A Room with a View, The Stately Homes of England, Mad Dogs and Englishmen and Mrs Worthington are known, sung and loved the world over. This edition gathers together over 250 of Coward's lyrics, arranged in chronological order and grouped by show. In addition, these masterpieces of verse are accompanied by an introduction and notes from the Master himself.
The plays in this volume demonstrate the extraordinary skill and versatility Coward's writing achieved in the late 1920s. The volume contains his best-loved classic, Private Lives, which was an immeditate hit when it was first staged in 1930. Coward's sparkling dialogue and repartee have ensured the play's popularity ever since. Of Bitter-Sweet in 1929 Noël Coward wrote that it was "a musical that gave me more complete satisfaction than anything else I had yet written. Not especially on acount of its dialogue or its lyrics or its music or its production but as a whole." The Marquise is an "eighteenth century comedy" filled with maids and duels, whilst Post-Mortem is a vilification of war that contains some of Coward's most powerful writing.
Coward Plays: 9 offers up a fascinating selection of Noël Coward's lesser-known works. Salute to the Brave/Time Remembered (1940) follows Leila Heseldyne after she has fled to America, leaving a war-torn Britain and her husband behind; Long Island Sound(1947) sees a writer coerced into a riotous flock of high flying society people with turbulent results; and Volcano (1957) depicts a volcanic eruption as it punctuates the dubious conduct of six individuals on a fictional South Sea island. This volume also includes Design for Rehearsing (1933) was Coward's private satire on the way he , Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne worked on Design for Living. Age Cannot Wither (1967), Coward's last and unfinished play completes the collection as it portrays the boozy reunion of three women in their sixties, who meet without fail every year to reminisce. Together, these works offer a new and intriguing insight into Coward the playwright and his oeuvre that extends well beyond his most well-known works such as Private Lives, Blithe Spirit and Hay Fever. The volume is introduced by Coward expert and scholar Barry Day.
Philip Hoare, in his biography of Coward described Semi-Monde as his "most daring play to date. In a chic Parisian hotel, a series of sexualpairings take place through rendezvous, arguments, infidelities andreconciliations: sexual deviance is undisguised...set in the bisexual1920s, the play could easily be populated by characters of Coward'ssociety". Point Valaine is "thedrama of a lurid episode of lust in the semi-tropics.. unmistakably thework of a master of the stage" (New York Times); South Sea Bubble whichconcerns "the Governor's lady in the Isle of Samolo who plays withnative fire, nearly gets her wings singed, bashes her native admirerwith a bottle and at one of those Coward next-morning-at breakfastscenes slips her way out of the scrape with feline grace." (ManchesterGuardian) whilst Nude With Violin is a witty comedy about art fraud.
This first volume in the Coward Collection contains four plays written within a two year period when Coward and the century were still in their 20s. The volume is introduced by Sheridan Morley, Coward's first biographer. Hay Fever, a comedy of bad manners, concerns a weekend with friends of the Bliss family, who have all been invited independently for a weekend at their country house near Maidenhead. The Vortex was a controversial drama in its time, introducing drug-addiction onto the stage at a time when alcoholism was barely mentioned. Fallen Angels, which is written for two star actresses was described as 'degenerate', 'vile', 'obscene', 'shocking' - the second half of the play is entirely taken up with an alcoholic duologue between the two women. Easy Virtue is an elegant, laconic tribute to a lost world of drawing-room dramas, no other writer went more directly to the jugular of that moralistic, tight-lipped but fundamentally hypocritical 20s society. "He is simply a phenomenon, and one that is unlikely to occur ever again in theatre history" Terence Rattigan
British theatre from 1900 to 1950 has been subject to radical re-evaluation with plays from the period setting theatres alight and gaining critical acclaim once again; this book explains why, presenting a comprehensive survey of the theatre and how it shaped the work that followed. Rebecca D'Monte examines how the emphasis upon the working class, 'angry' drama from the 1950s has led to the neglect of much of the century's earlier drama, positioning the book as part of the current debate about the relationship between war and culture, the middlebrow, and historiography. In a comprehensive survey of the period, the book considers: - the Edwardian theatre; - the theatre of the First World War, including propaganda and musicals; -the interwar years, the rise of commercial theatre and influence of Modernism; - the theatre of the Second World War and post-war period. Essays from leading scholars Penny Farfan, Steve Nicholson and Claire Cochrane give further critical perspectives on the period's theatre and demonstrate its relevance to the drama of today. For anyone studying 20th-century British Drama this will prove one of the foundational texts.
The Seventh volume in the Coward Collection. On Quadrille: "Miss Fontanne plays the madcap Marchioness with the crackle and sheen of a five-pound note. Her eyes mock marvelously, her voice cuts like a knife into a wedding cake, and the scene in Act Three, on the eve of her elopement with Mr. Lung, is as delicious as crushed ice." Evening Standard, 1952. "The idea of Peace in Our Time", Coward wrote "was conceived in Paris shortly after the Liberation. . . I began to suspect that the physical effect of four years intermittent bombing is far less damaging to the intrinsic character of a nation than the spiritual effect of four years enemy occupation." The volume also contains four pieces from the Tonight at 8.30 sequence: We Were Dancing "provides a marvelously compact illustration of the way the English public school spirit prevails even in moments of strenuous passion." "Shadow Play is a musical fantasy. . . which gave Gertie and me a chance to sing as romantically as we could, dance in the moonlight and, we hoped, convince the audience that we were very fascinating indeed"; and "Family Album - a sly satire on Victorian hypocrisy, adorned with an unobtrusive but agreeable musical score. It was stylised both in its decor and its performance, was a joy to play and provided the whole talented company with good parts." Star Chamber, closely based on Coward's experiences trying to co-ordinate his Actors' Orphanage charity committee, is published here for the first time.
I will ever be grateful for the almost psychic gift that enabled me to write Blithe Spirit in five days during one of the darkest years of the war.' Written in 1941, Blithe Spirit remained the longest-running comedy in British Theatre for three decades thereafter. Plotted around the central role of one of Coward's best loved characters, a spirit medium Madame Arcati (originally performed by Margaret Rutherford) Coward's play is an escapist comedy about a man whose two previous wives return to haunt him. "A minor comic masterpiece of the lighter sort" Professor Allardyce Nicoll
The third volume of Coward's plays contains some of his best work from the thirties. Design for Living is about a triangular alliance between two men and a woman, based on friends of Coward's, which he waited to write "until she and he and I had arrived by different roads in our careers at a time and a place when we felt we could all three play together with a more or less equal degree of success." Cavalcade was Coward's most ambitious stage project, set during the Boer War, which cost £30,000 in its day and which includes scenes of the relief of the sinking of the Titanic and the coming of the Jazz Age. Conversation Piece is a musical comedy that Noël wrote for the Parisian star Yvonne Printemps and includes the song "I'll Follow My Secret Heart". Also in the volume are three short plays from Tonight at 8.30 including Hands Across the Sea, a gentle satire of colonials and London Society; Still Life which became the film Brief Encounter and Fumed Oak a suburban comedy about a 'worm who turns'.