REVIEW | A Naughty Night With Noël Coward at the Old Red Lion Theatre Islington10th August 2015
Absurdly polite confrontations, beastly upper-class pompousness, all served up with preposterous hilarity.
Director Jimmy Walters, co-founder of Proud Haddock, has brought to life two works of one of the most famous actor-director-producer-playwrights, Noël Coward. You’ll feel as though you’ve been pulled back to the 1920s for 70mins with two authentic performances of Noël’s short one act plays.
In the first – We Were Dancing – Louise (Lianne Harvey), a married woman, supposedly falls pinned-curls-over-oxford-heels in love – without so much as a first name exchange – with Karl (James Sindall), a chap she’s just met on the dance floor of a South Pacific country club. Replace the waltz with bare-chested shape-throwing and that’s just another normal night at XXL.
Once the euphoric bubble bursts and carnal frenzy fades, what’s left? In today’s world, would they even swap digits?
Brilliantly awkward with a good old-fashioned, British stiff-upper-lip marriage break-up, all executed with high society etiquette.
In the second – The Better Half – Alice (Tracey Pickup) is bored, and has fallen out of love with her drippy husband David (Stephen Fawkes). Blunt Alice attempts to rile David with confessions of adultery, and tries to push him into the arms of her friend Marion (Beth Eyre) – car-key swapping partiers weren’t around back then. Drippy David accepts the affairs – in his mind, that’s the honourable thing to do – which leads to Alice’s hysterical hysteria.
In the speakeasy golden 20s it wasn’t so easy to speak of infidelity. Nowadays it’s a lot simpler, a few words on WhatsApp or a quick Snapchat, and out the door one totters.
Pickup really picks up Alice’s nuances and breathes life into the character – the crowd sympathised with Alice, no contest.
By the end of the night the 20s weren’t the only thing roaring in the Old Red Lion’s intimate theatre – the humour is as fresh as the performance, and the audience found the both acts jolly agreeable.
A Naughty Night with Noël Coward: We Were Dancing and The Better Half
Old Red Lion Theatre, 418 St John Street, London EC1V 4NJ
Tuesday 4th – Saturday 29th August 2015 Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm
Saturday matinees, 2pm – Sunday matinees, 3pm