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Unperformed during his lifetime and never before seen in a major production, Noël Coward’s 1956 drama isn’t exactly an undiscovered gem despite the flutter of homoeroticism which briefly boils to the surface.

Written during his years as a tax exile in Jamaica, its protagonists bear more than a passing debt to his glamorous neighbours at the time – including the adulterous creator of 007, Ian Fleming.

Set in 1958 on the volcanic slopes of a fictional British Colonial island, the unstable geographical background mirrors the potentially volatile relationships of the handful of ex-pats socialising at the home of Jenny Seagrove’s cool, contained widow, Adela.

Pursued by - and attracted to - predatory married neighbour Guy (a caddish, moustachioed Jason Durr who looks ready to shag anything that moves), she refuses to give in to his physical desires.

Despite his protestations of his feelings for her - not to mention the arrival of his understandably waspish wife – it’s not long before he turns his attention elsewhere.

It marks an interesting change in Coward’s formerly free-wheeling attitude to sex – it’s the faithful married couple who are most content.

Yet it lacks the sparkle which characterises his best known work - the dialogue is often stilted, the situations clumsily contrived.

That said, I’m not sorry to have had the chance to see it – and Roy Marsden’s efficient, decently acted production merits its sensibly limited run.


Until 29th September
£20 - £47.50
Vaudeville, Strand WC2R 0NH
Tube | Charing Cross
kenwright.com


Photo: Keith Patterson


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