Chichester Festival Production
Gielgud Theatre, London
Tuesday 20th August 2013
This three act comedy, a staple of the Coward repertoire, enjoys a fresh, fast-paced outing in the West End following a successful run originating at the Chichester Festival Theatre.
Coward is notorious for writing hateful women and in the juxtaposition of the sarcastic, aloof Amanda and the sickly, innocent Sybil, his talent for creating believable yet completely unlikable female characters is enticingly displayed. Strangely however, there is little to truly like in the men either. Boring, soft and stuffy Victor is the antithesis of the egotistical, obnoxious - albeit sexy - Elyot and by the curtain there is little to admire in either of them. Unlikable as perhaps they all are, they are impeccably drawn and eminently entertaining with some classic and quotable lines about men, women, marriage and love.
The stage at the Gielgud is almost too large for the piece, and an element of the coincidencence of proximity in Act 1 and the depth of intimacy in Act 2 are somewhat lost with so much space to wallow in. That said, the sets are certainly reminiscent of the period and are impeccably furnished.
The cast have all absorbed the Coward spirit wonderfully and the direction is pitched ideally in period and pace. Anna Chancellor as Amanda and Toby Stephens as Elyot are electric together and their excellently delivered interpretations are central to the success of this entertaining evening.