A Naughty Night With Noel Coward
I attended the delightfully spiffing production of A Naughty Night With Noel Coward on Wednesday 12th August at The Old Red Lion Theatre and was treated to two short one act plays about marriage of the upper class in the 1920’s/1930’s.
The first play is ‘We Were Dancing’ which was first seen in 1935. This focuses on Karl Sandys (played by James Sindall) and Louise Charteris (played by Lianne Harvey) who fall in love, in a moment (well a Waltz) at a country club. We then meet Louise’s husband, Hubert played by John MacCormick and sister-in-law, Clara played by Beth Eyre! The humour in this play is Hubert’s very British response to the news and the gentlemanly way he treats his wife’s new infatuation. Beth’s whimsical and infatuated Clara contrasted perfectly with her husband Hubert’s stiff upper lip.
The second play is ‘The Better Half’ where we are faced with Alice, played by Tracey Pickering who is trying to convince her husband David, played by Stephen Fawkesm to have an affair with Marion, played again by Beth Eyre so she is able to get a divorce. This was my favourite out of the two plays as I loved the way Alice tried to manipulate the situation. Tracey Pickering was charming as Alice, and Stephen emulated the character of David perfectly. I also felt that I understood the husband and wife character in this piece a lot better, partially owing to the fact that even before we meet David we have heard about many details of his personality, likes and dislikes.
Both plays were easy to watch and allowed the audience to be transported back to a bygone era. Across both plays the mannerisms of the time were picked out perfectly.
I also thought the costumes were beautiful and fitting for the upper class setting. The performance space was limited but the director, Jimmy Walters, made good use of every nook and cranny. The set change from 1st play to the 2nd, although long, was carried out in style – even a costume change and musical interlude especially for the occasion.
Setting the 2 plays together worked very well due to the marital theme running across them both and the women seemingly ‘wearing the trousers’ in the marriage in a time when this rarely occurred.
The whole performance lasted just over an hour and what a spiffing hour it was.