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)
"I was photographed naked on a cushion very early in life, an insane, toothless smile slitting my face and pleats of fat overlapping me like an ill-fitting overcoat. Later, at the age of two, I was photographed again. This time in a lace dress, leaning against a garden roller and laughing hysterically. If these photographs can be found they will adorn this book." Thus begins the life story of one of the most celebrated characters in British theatrical history, in the first of Coward's autobiographies, first published in 1937. Displaying an early dedication to the theatre, Present Indicative hints at the success that would come to Coward as actor, playwright, novelist and performer. Each line is punctuated with his trademark effervescent wit, making this book a comic tour de force in it's own right, as well as a "must read" for anyone with an interest in the British stage. "He is simply a phenomenon, and one that is unlikely to occur ever again in theatre history" Terence Rattigan
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.
'A uniquely charming and enticing journey through a remarkable life. Coward's own record is made all the more delightful by the wise and helpful interpolations of Barry Day, the soundest authority on the Master that there is.' Stephen Fry 'Precise, witty, remarkably observed and gloriously English' Dame Judi Dench 'Barry Day's analysis is both perceptive and irresistible' Lord Richard Attenborough With virtually all the letters in this volume previously unpublished - this is a revealing new insight into the private life of a legendary figure. Coward's multi-faceted talent as an actor, writer, composer, producer and even as a war-time spy(!), brought him into close contact with the great, the good and the merely ambitious in film, literature and politics.With letters to and from the likes of: George Bernard Shaw, Virginia Woolf, Winston Churchill, Greta Garbo (she wrote asking him to marry her), Marlene Dietriech, Ian Fleming, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, Fred Astaire, Charlie Chaplin, FD Roosevelt, the Queen Mother and many more, the picture that emerges is a series of vivid sketches of Noel Coward's private relationships, and a re-examination of the man himself. Deliciously insightful, witty, perfectly bitchy, wise, loving and often surprisingly moving, this extraordinary collection gives us Coward at his crackling best. A sublime portrait of a unique artist who made an indelible mark on the 20th century, from the Blitz to the Ritz and beyond.
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 Study Guide for Noel Coward's "Hay Fever," excerpted from Gale's acclaimed Drama For Students. This concise study guide includes plot summary; character analysis; author biography; study questions; historical context; suggestions for further reading; and much more. For any literature project, trust Drama For Students for all of your research needs.
With In Churchill's Shadow, David Cannadine offers an intriguing look at ways in which perceptions of a glorious past have continued to haunt the British present, often crushing efforts to shake them off. The book centers on Churchill, a titanic figure whose influence spanned the century. Though he was the savior of modern Britain, Churchill was a creature of the Victorian age. Though he proclaimed he had not become Prime Minister to "preside over the liquidation of the British Empire," in effect he was doomed to do just that. And though he has gone down in history for his defiant orations during the crisis of World War II, Cannadine shows that for most of his career Churchill's love of rhetoric was his own worst enemy. Cannadine turns an equally insightful gaze on the institutions and individuals that embodied the image of Britain in this period: Gilbert & Sullivan, Ian Fleming, Noel Coward, the National Trust, and the Palace of Westminster itself, the home and symbol of Britain's parliamentary government. This superb volume offers a wry, sympathetic, yet penetrating look at how national identity evolved in the era of the waning of an empire.
The Oxford Handbook of the British Musical provides a comprehensive academic survey of British musical theatre offering both a historical account of the musical's development from 1728 and a range of in-depth critical analyses of the unique forms and features of British musicals, which explore the aesthetic values and sociocultural meanings of a tradition that initially gave rise to the American musical and later challenged its modern pre-eminence. After a consideration of how John Gay's The Beggar's Opera (1728) created a prototype for eighteenth-century ballad opera, the book focuses on the use of song in early nineteenth century theatre, followed by a sociocultural analysis of the comic operas of Gilbert and Sullivan; it then examines Edwardian and interwar musical comedies and revues as well as the impact of Rodgers and Hammerstein on the West End, before analysing the new forms of the postwar British musical from The Boy Friend (1953) to Oliver! (1960). One section of the book examines the contributions of key twentieth century figures including Noel Coward, Ivor Novello, Tim Rice, Andrew Lloyd Webber, director Joan Littlewood and producer Cameron Macintosh, while a number of essays discuss both mainstream and alternative musicals of the 1960s and 1970s and the influence of the pop industry on the creation of concept recordings such as Jesus Christ Superstar (1970) and Les Misérables (1980). There is a consideration of "jukebox" musicals such as Mamma Mia! (1999), while essays on overtly political shows such as Billy Elliot (2005) are complemented by those on experimental musicals like Jerry Springer: the Opera (2003) and London Road (2011) and on the burgeoning of Black and Asian British musicals in both the West End and subsidized venues. The Oxford Handbook of the British Musical demonstrates not only the unique qualities of British musical theatre but also the vitality and variety of British musicals today.
Noel Coward was a child when he saw an advertisement in the Daily Mirror calling on "a talented boy of attractive appearance" to act a lead role in a play about fairies called The Goldfish. Coward reasoned: I am "a talented boy, God knows, and, when washed and smarmed down a bit, passably attractive." The plays director, the young boy thought, would be a fool indeed to miss the magnificent opportunity of having him in the cast. He ran to his room to put his acting clothes on and prepare for the audition--and with that same blithe spirit, Coward went on to write some of the funniest, wittiest plays of the twentieth century.Setting the playwright in context to his personal life, social, historical and political events, other writers of influence, and more, you will quickly gain a deep understanding of Coward and the plays he wrote. Read Coward in an Hour and experience his plays like never before. Know the playwright, love the play!The book features:- Coward in an Hour, the main essay of the book- Coward In a Minute, a snapshot chronology- A complete listing of Coward¿s work- A list of Coward¿s contemporaries in all fields- Excerpts from Coward¿s significant works- An extensive bibliography grouped according to type of reader- An index of the main essay.Playwrights in an Hour is a series devoted to the most produced and studied playwrights in the English language, from the Greek masters to contemporary writers, and written by leading authorities in the field. Each short book places the playwright and his or her work in historical, social, and literary context.Howard Kissel was a theater critic for thirty-five years, first for Women's Wear Daily, then the New York Daily News. His writing on the arts has appeared in many publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Vogue and Opera News. In 1974 he was on the panel to select the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. He is the only person to have been chairman of both the New York Drama Critics Circle and the New York Film Critics Circle. He is the author of books on the Broadway producer David Merrick, the musical theater and the teaching of Stella.
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.
Written as a vehicle for Coward's own acting talents alongside his frequent stage partner Gertrude Lawrence, Tonight at 8:30 is Coward's ambitious series of ten one-act plays which saw him breathe new life into the one-act form. From vaudeville to satire, from farce to intricate comedy of manners, from melodrama to romance, these plays span the full, glorious range of Coward's writing. Peep through your fingers at the chaotic Red Peppers music-hall show, witness a bankrupt couple use all Ways and Means to scheme their way out of debt, and break your heart along with Laura in the famous Still Life, the original version of the film Brief Encounter. First performed in London in 1936, the plays perfectly showcase Coward's talents as a playwright, providing a sparkling, fast-paced and remarkably varied selection of theatrical gems. Coward wrote of the first series of three plays with characteristic delight: 'They are all brilliantly written, exquisitely directed, and I am bewitching in all of them.' Gertrude Lawrence wrote to Coward in 1947, 'Dearest Noël, wherever I go . . . all I hear is "please revive Tonight at 8.30!"' All ten plays are collected together into this volume that features both Coward's own preface and an introduction by Barry Day, Coward expert and editor of The Letters of Noël Coward. This new edition of Tonight at 8.30 is published to coincide with English Touring Theatre and the Nuffield Southampton's revival for the first time in the UK since Coward starred in them in 1936.
'The actual facts are so simple. I love you. You love me. You love Otto. I love Otto. Otto loves you. Otto loves me. There now! Start to unravel from there.' Design for Living is a wickedly witty dark romantic comedy by Noel Coward. Initially banned in the UK, this provocative play portrays three amoral, glib and stylish characters and their hopelessly inescapable, if also unconventional, emotional entanglement. From 1930s bohemian Paris to the dizzying heights of Manhattan society, a tempestuous love triangle unravels between a vivacious interior designer, Gilda, playwright Leo and artist Otto - three people unashamedly and passionately in love with each other. They are trapped in what Coward called 'a three-sided erotic hodge podge.' With Coward's trademark piquant style, this lively, funny but also atypical play looks at dazzling, egotistical creatures and their self-destructive dependence on each other. Exploring themes of bisexuality, celebrity, success and self-obsession, Design for Living is a stylish and scandalous comedy.
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.
Written as a vehicle for Coward's own acting talents alongside his frequent stage partner Gertrude Lawrence, Tonight at 8:30 is Coward's ambitious series of ten one-act plays which saw him breathe new life into the one-act form. First performed in London in 1936, the plays perfectly showcase Coward's talents as a playwright, providing a sparkling, fast-paced and remarkably varied selection of theatrical gems. All ten plays are collected together into this volume that features both Coward's own preface and an introduction by Barry Day, editor of The Letters of Nöel Coward. Coward wrote of the first series of three plays with characteristic delight: 'They are all brilliantly written, exquisitely directed, and I am bewitching in all of them.' Gertrude Lawrence wrote to Coward in 1947, 'Dearest Noël, wherever I go . . . all I hear is "Please revive Tonight at 8.30!"' 'Tonight at 8.30 surprises as much as it delights as, in some of the plays, Coward takes us to a world far removed from that of the wealth and glamour of the debonair London socialites who dominated much of his earlier work. But The Master's polish and sparkle are never far away as music and song intertwine with the wit and insight of one of our greatest ever playwrights.' Chichester Festival Theatre, 2006.
The eighth volume in the Coward Collection includes I'll Leave It To You and The Young Idea, the first of Coward's plays ever to be produced. These were, as he said, "enthusiastically acclaimed by the critics and ran five weeks and eight weeks respectively. In both of them I appeared with the utmost determination." This Was a Man, a slightly later play, was written in 1926, after the successes which made his name. It was originally banned by the Lord Chamberlain "for facetious adultery".
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 including Tonight at 8.30 - 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'. The volume is introduced by Sheridan Morley.
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.