Inthe 1920s and 1930s Noël Coward mastered and defined the art of therevue sketch - short and often topical or satirical stage pieces, manyof which were a lead-in to his famous songs. He wrote these sketchesfor the top revues of the 1920s and 1930s, including London Calling!(1923) and Cochrane's Revue of 1931. This volume collects Coward's bestand most witty pieces, including Rain Before Seven, the only sketch heperformed with Gertrude Lawrence, and the hilarious parody, Some OtherPrivate Lives, in which Coward burlesques his own famous play, PrivateLives. Also included are short one-act plays never before published.The collection includes an Introduction by Coward scholar Barry Day,setting the work in the context of its time and its dramatic form. Aforgotten area of Coward's writing is now back in print.
In the 1920s and 1930s Noël Coward mastered and defined the art of the revue sketch - short and often topical or satirical stage pieces, many of which were a lead-in to his famous songs. He wrote these sketches for the top revues of the 1920s and 1930s, including London Calling! (1923) and Cochrane's Revue of 1931. This volume collects Coward's best and most witty pieces, including Rain Before Seven, the only sketch he performed with Gertrude Lawrence, and the hilarious parody, Some Other Private Lives, in which Coward burlesques his own famous play, Private Lives. Also included are short one-act plays never before published. The collection includes an Introduction by Coward scholar Barry Day, setting the work in the context of its time and its dramatic form. A forgotten area of Coward's writing is now back in print.
In the 1920s and 1930s Coward mastered and defined the art of the revue - short and often topical or satirical sketches, many of which were a lead-in to a song. He started producing sketches for some of the most famous revues of the period. Throughout his career, Coward wrote many sketches and playlets that were not part of one of the many revues to which he lent his name to great success. Those works are gathered here, arranged chronologically, from 'What Next', written in 1915 to 'Some other Private Lives' (a parody on Coward's own more famous work), written in 1930.
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'.
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.
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.
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 sexual pairings take place through rendezvous, arguments, infidelities and reconciliations: sexual deviance is undisguised...set in the bisexual 1920s, the play could easily be populated by characters of Coward's society". Point Valaine is "the drama of a lurid episode of lust in the semi-tropics.. unmistakably the work of a master of the stage" (New York Times); South Sea Bubble which concerns "the Governor's lady in the Isle of Samolo who plays with native fire, nearly gets her wings singed, bashes her native admirer with a bottle and at one of those Coward next-morning-at breakfast scenes slips her way out of the scrape with feline grace." (Manchester Guardian) whilst Nude With Violin is a witty comedy about art fraud.
The Seventh volume in the Coward Collection. On Quadrille: "Miss Fontanne plays the madcap Marchioness with thecrackle and sheen of a five-pound note. Her eyes mock marvelously, hervoice cuts like a knife into a wedding cake, and the scene in ActThree, on the eve of her elopement with Mr. Lung, is as delicious ascrushed 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 intermittentbombing is far less damaging to the intrinsic character of a nationthan the spiritual effect of four years enemy occupation." Thevolume also contains four pieces from the Tonight at 8.30 sequence: WeWere Dancing "provides a marvelously compact illustration of the waythe English public school spirit prevails even in moments of strenuouspassion." "Shadow Play is a musical fantasy. . . which gave Gertie andme a chance to sing as romantically as we could, dance in the moonlightand, we hoped, convince the audience that we were very fascinatingindeed"; and "Family Album - a sly satire on Victorian hypocrisy,adorned with an unobtrusive but agreeable musical score. It wasstylised both in its decor and its performance, was a joy to play andprovided 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.
This volume brings together Coward's celebrated verse, from snappy epigrams to seven-hundred-line short stories such as 'P&O 1930' and 'Not Yet the Dodo'; from moving war-time encounters to satirical barbs at familiar Coward targets; and from personal reminiscences to occasional verse such as his tribute to Ivor Novello or his counter-attack on Graham Greene. Includes an introduction by Martin Tickner and Coward's long-time companion, Graham Payn.
Three volumes of his verse were published in Coward's lifetime, but while The Complete Verse features all of the work from these three volumes it also presents previously unpublished material for the very first time. Coward expert Barry Day has collected together the additional verse which Coward sent to family and friends and which paints a vivid portrait of his more private life. For anyone who has enjoyed the Diaries or the Letters of Noel Coward, The Complete Verse offers further enjoyment and appreciation of Coward's wit, insatiable interest in people and skilful rendering of his public and private lives. Day's linking narrative situates the verse in the events of Coward's life.
The definitive biography of one of the twentieth century’s most celebrated and controversial dramatists. To several generations, actor, playwright, songwriter, and filmmaker Noël Coward (1899-1973) was the very personification of wit, glamour, and elegance. Given unprecedented access to the private papers and correspondence of Coward family members, compatriots, and numerous lovers, Samuel Johnson Prize-winning biographer Philip Hoare has produced an illuminating and sophisticated biography of Coward, whose relentless drive for success and approval fueled the stunning bursts of creativity that launched the once-painfully middle class boy from the suburbs of London into a pantheon of theatrical deities that includes Gilbert and Sullivan, Oscar Wilde, and George Bernard Shaw. As much the embodiment of a lifestyle as an actual inhabitant of it, Coward’s carefully cultivated image defined the aspirations of untold numbers of actors, artists, and writers who succeeded him, and Hoare’s meticulously researched biography peels away the layers of this complex persona to reveal the man underneath it all, whom The Times of London decreed upon his death to be the most versatile of all the great figures of the English theater.
A reissue in hardback of critic John Lahr's famous 1982 study of Noël Coward's plays "Noël Coward," said Terence Rattigan, "is simply a phenomenon, and one that is unlikely to occur ever again in theatre history." A phenomenon he certainly was, and it is part of John Lahr's purpose in this book to show how that phenomenon called "Noël Coward" was largely Coward's own careful creation. Lahr's penetrating critical study of Coward's drama investigates all the major and minor plays of "The Master". Private Lives, Design for Living and Hay Fever make a fascinating group of "Comedies of Bad Manners". Blithe Spirit and Relative Values raise the "Ghost in the Fun Machine". Lahr then goes on to explore the "politics of charm" oozing through The Vortex, Easy Virtue and Present Laughter. In all Coward's plays Lahr uncovers a coherent philosophy in which charm is both the subject of Coward's comedies and the trap which made his very public life a perpetual performance. "A smashing, thoughtful and very good guide to Coward's plays" (Sheridan Morley)
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