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Issues of class are at the centre of Noel Coward’s 1951 enjoyable comedy of social mobility – or, preferably, the lack of it.

The Earl of Marshwood is about to get married and he’s bringing his fiancée home to meet his widowed mother Felicity, Countess of Marshwood.

Far from being a member of the aristocracy, his bride-to-be is a Hollywood actress (Leigh Zimmerman’s Miranda) and - shock! horror! - it turns out she’s also the estranged younger sister of Moxie their housekeeper and has been bad-mouthing her (and their Brixton childhood) for years.

It’s not exactly vintage Coward, but director Trevor Nunn’s experienced cast keeps the comedy bobbing along very satisfactorily as Patricia Hodge’s astute, perfectly pitched Felicity attempts to elevate Caroline Quentin’s homely Moxie from lady’s maid who eats with the servants downstairs to companion who dines with the family upstairs... and to see off Miranda as well.

Stephen Brimson Lewis’s elegant design adds just the right detail to the Marshwood country pile, Steven Pacey is likeably camp as an upper class relative, and impressionist Rory Bremner (making his theatrical debut in his 50’s) acquits himself admirably as Crestwell the butler who is every bit as averse to change as his employer in a milieu not yet ready to embrace changing values in a changing world.

When: Until June 21

Where: Harold Pinter Theatre, Panton St, London, SW1Y 4DN

Tickets cost £20 - £55. Click here to book

Image credit: Catherine Ashmore


Theatre: Relative Values
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