As some of you know, I'm in my second year of a 3yr MFA program in Acting, and in this semester we're working in comedy (farce, high, low) and I've recently had the pleasure of reading Private Lives for the first time. We'll be in scenes from the play for a few weeks and I really appreciate Coward's flippancy in the play. You don't see plays like this too much anymore.
I recently bought a book of Coward plays at a second hand shop, and it is a delight. Frivolity was never so serious. A recent collection of his letters was released, some of which must be very interesting, indeed.
Coward is one of my favorite playwrights of all time! His short stories are brilliant and in a league with Saki (H.H. Munroe) and E. F. Benson. His song lyrics capture the style of a brilliant era for Art in the Modern world. It is not an exaggeration to say he was truly a genius. That's my little ol' opinion.
You can get the book online for much cheaper than the $37 off the shelf at the bookstore.
I gave it a Christmas presents to some people and received it as a Birthday present a month later.
Speaking of Coward, last year I toured "Ten Chimneys" in Genesee Depot, Wisconsin, where Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne resided on their farm every summer. It was the best theatre tour I have ever taken. To be on their grounds in the perfectly restored house decorated by a set designer, and their outbuildings where they lived and worked was stimulating. In their house, the had a "Noel Coward" room and an "Olivier" Room as they would also come for extended stays.
To walk into their outbuilding where they rehearsed and wrote and had writers write for them was a thrill and profound. And yet one knew there was a lot of fun going on! I plan on going again.
There was a lot of Coward at the time at the museum. A special travelling exhibit. the man just kept re-inventing himself.
"Ten Chimneys" was going to be leveled for a development until one guy heard about it and he saved it from destruction. It is an American Theatre Treasure.
Wait until you see the current London production - those of you who can - of "The Vortex". It's a stunner. Certainly witty, but far more serious in subject matter than Private Lives or Blythe Spirit.
I've played in Private Lives and Blythe Spirit in Vienna. Private Lives has one of the best 'fight scenes', but the sheer power of the last scene of The Vortex is devastating and has to be up there with the raw impact of those famous scenes from Virginnia Woolf, Death of a Salesman and, ironically, Look Back in Anger.
Coward was much slighted in the 60's and 70's, but the Vortex, in my opinion outclasses the Kitchen sink stuff that claimed to usurp his title as master.