Read Coward Plays 1: Hay Fever, The Vortex, Fallen Angels, Easy Virtue by Noël Coward Online


This first volume in the Coward Collection contains four plays written within a two year period when Coward and the century were still in their 20s. The volume is introduced by Sheridan Morley, Coward's first biographer."Hay Fever," a comedy of bad manners, concerns a weekend with friends of the Bliss family, who have all been invited independently for a weekend at their cThis first volume in the Coward Collection contains four plays written within a two year period when Coward and the century were still in their 20s. The volume is introduced by Sheridan Morley, Coward's first biographer."Hay Fever," a comedy of bad manners, concerns a weekend with friends of the Bliss family, who have all been invited independently for a weekend at their country house near Maidenhead. "The Vortex "was a controversial drama in its time, introducing drug-addiction onto the stage at a time when alcoholism was barely mentioned. "Fallen Angels," which is written for two star actresses was described as 'degenerate', 'vile', 'obscene', 'shocking' - the second half of the play is entirely taken up with an alcoholic duologue between the two women. "Easy Virtue" is an elegant, laconic tribute to a lost world of drawing-room dramas, no other writer went more directly to the jugular of that moralistic, tight-lipped but fundamentally hypocritical 20s society....

Title : Coward Plays 1: Hay Fever, The Vortex, Fallen Angels, Easy Virtue
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780413460608
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 322 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Coward Plays 1: Hay Fever, The Vortex, Fallen Angels, Easy Virtue Reviews

  • Paul LaFontaine
    2019-02-01 12:29

    In Fallen Angels, two English wives who are having a bit of the seven-year itch contend with the visit of an old flame who is a suave Frenchman. They collide with each other, their husbands and, of course, the Frenchman.Builds slowly as the wives are the main focus then the husbands and Frenchman enter and chaos ensues. It is hard to beat Coward's comedies of manner. Highly recommend.

  • Keith Jones
    2019-02-14 10:12

    Both Hay Fever and Fallen Angels are really funny. The main thing I remember about The Vortex is that it was kind of heavy handed, and I don't remember anything about Easy Virtue.

  • Bruce
    2019-01-20 12:37

    Noel Coward rocks, what-what. I say! Positively ripping, every bit as uproarious as P.G. Wodehouse, and yet a tad more substantive, hey-ho.I took this book with me on a vacation cruise trusting to the assumption that Noel Coward and Cole Porter were identical twins separated at conception by the Atlantic Ocean, and of course knowing that aboard ship, Anything Goes. Also, it helped tremendously that my copy was but a small, lightweight paperback. Coward did not disappoint; I am here to tell you that he definitely has a talent to amuse.All of the plays in this book rip the hypocritical double-standard of socio-sexual conduct for men and women, so they remain (sadly) relevant and contemporary. Irrespective of theme, I think they make a great introduction to Coward and motivate me to read the rest of his extensive ouerve... or at least the plays he wrote in the ‘30s and ‘40s. (Coward was one of those prolific literary talents that renders stagestruck Joe-Averages like me Kermit-green.)Fans of Blithe Spirit should note that this early-work anthology features less high-camp wit than manor house drama. It’s also prefaced by a terrific introduction that does wonders to contextualize the start of Coward’s career. Without further ado then, the plays:Hay Fever - The four members of an insincere, overly-theatrical family invite guests for a weekend in the country as diversionary foils without giving the hapless guests their lines. This is an ugly farce that veers in the direction of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.” Will the guests manage to escape with their sanity? 4 stars.The Vortex - This is what I imagine you’d get when you adapt Der Rosenkavalier into an afterschool special. In this case, our Marschallin is an aging starlet named Florence. Florence must come to grips with the inevitable diminishment in her charms’ potency. Only then can she take on the hollow, drug-addled ruin that has become her son. Alas, Florence lacks the bittersweet self-awareness that makes the Marschallin such a compelling character, so this play comes across like ever-escalating melodrama. 4 stars, then 3 stars, and finally 2 stars.Fallen Angels - Very close to a Neil Simon farce in feel (though of course Coward came first). Two contented (if slightly bored) married women learn that a shared old flame will be in town while their husbands are away together on a fishing trip. They fear/long to renew the loss of their virtue. Thus (Act I, pp. 192-3): JANE (panic-stricken): Don’t you see?... it’s the only way -- we must go -- at once -- anywhere out of London.JULIA: I shall do nothing of the sort, it would be so cowardly... I shall stay and face it.JANE: If you do, I shall.JULIA: There is not the least necessity for us both to suffer.JANE: If you imagine I should enjoy being by myself in Brighton while you were gallivanting about London with Maurice... it won’t do... Whatever happens, I am not going to be left out.JULIA: Very well, then I’ll go away and you stay.JANE (eagerly): All right.JULIA: What about standing or falling together?JANE: I’m willing to sacrifice myself for you. 5 stars!Easy Virtue - Per the author’s preface, this was Coward’s attempt to write a Pinero drawing-room drama. (One of these days, I’ll have to look up Pinero and see whether he had anything to offer posterity.) Here, the prodigal fop returns to introduce his new wife to his ridiculously judgmental mother and sisters, whose “virtue” is equivalent to social veneering. Of course we all root for the fop’s wife, a divorcee with a mysterious past who is so much more worldly, intelligent, and mature than he it causes all but the antagonists to wonder why on Earth she married such a provincial Bertie Wooster. Oh, I say! The detestable antagonistas are immediately recognizable, which makes this play still timely and oddly very American in feel. This is one of those works that works the audience into a frenzy of longing to give these narrow-minded windsocks a piece of your mind (until at long last, the heroine finally puts them in their place). That said, the ending remains true to its characters, not rhetorical fantasy. 5 stars, unless you’re the kind of freak who would root for a fundamentalist book burner.Postscript: I haven’t seen (or until posting heard about) the Kristin Scott Thomas movie, though I can absolutely imagine her in the role of the heroine. Alas, I looked it up on Netflix to find her cast as the mother-in-law and Jessica Biel as the heroine. WTF?! If you've seen it and think it's worth watching, please let me know.

  • Elliot Huxtable
    2019-02-15 09:26

    Hay Fever, 4*: neatly observed, wittily written and quite, quite hilarious. We all know a family like the Blisses, so wrapped up in their own troubles, making mountains out of molehills, that they remain blissfully unaware of their guests' feelings.the Vortex, 3*: a tad histrionic but amusing.Fallen Angels, 4*: hilarious sendup of French farce, dealing with premarital sex (!) and done brilliantly. An excellent vehicle for any two lead females.Easy Virtue, 4*: the best of the lot - funny, surprising and good fun

  • Feliks
    2019-02-08 12:11

    Truly a hoot. Hilarity ensues as you open the cover. The pages flit by like ruffling cards, that's how light, and easy, and fun the read is. Thoroughly instructive as to British and European sensibility and humor in the 1930s. No, its not 'dated' at all. Blast your eyes! If you use the obtuse term 'dated' for a work like this---all I can say is that you reveal yourself to be an unutterable ninny and I shall never look at you again as long as I live.The student of history can gain realms from these plays. Who knew Coward was so extraordinarily prolific? There's not just this three-volume set of four plays each--there's his letters; novels; short stories; screenplays; and a whole other book of eight one-act plays. The boy was a powerhouse. A wunderkind. The British answer to Orson Welles.This is a kind of culture we are crying out for lately, if only we knew it. If only we could see it. The culture of manners and language; the fine art and amusement generated from dealing-with-ourselves, (as we always should). All this is fast fading in the age of technology. These plays are the remnant of a culture of people striving to understand one another and adjust to one another. Coward, for all his coyness, was a keen observer of human nature and one well worth heeding. Without authors like Coward...whether sooner or later, the result is war. One must face bitter facts!

  • Laura
    2019-01-23 06:13

    I was surprised to learn that Hay Fever is the most popular, as it's insubstantial and has minimal plot. However the characters in all the plays are very well observed, especially for someone in his early twenties. Most of the plays wouldn't suffer from an edit. I agree with the introduction that the first and third acts of Fallen Angels feel tacked on just to make a complete play, as the second act is good but the first act is deathly dull and the third act is muddled, confusing and a let-down. Easy Virtue and The Vortex were my favourites and have the most complex, 3-dimensional characters.

  • Marina
    2019-01-20 10:34

    Ahhh brilliant.Hay Fever: Flawless satirical comedy about a crazy family and their poor guests. I laughed quite a lot.The Vortex: Starts off as a comedy, but it gets serious-er and serious-er and the by the ending it’s quite shocking. Nicky = boyfriend.Fallen Angels: Highly amusing, it’s basically a 2 woman show… Two woman waiting for an old lover they both had years ago. It’s a roller coaster of emotions, and you feel bad for them, and for the husbands, but you laugh too.Easy Virtue: Highly enjoyable! I had seen the film, but it’s quite different, because the play is really good and the comedy is first class. Also sad, and deep, and I loved it.

  • Kaethe
    2019-01-25 09:24

    On the one hand, the conflict in these four plays all rests in the idea that any sex outside of marriage is wrong and inside of marriage is unlikely. So, in a modern world where everyone has a past and where people don't have to stayed married if they don't want to (except politicians), the conflict feels odd. The other hand points out that he writes beautiful and witty dialogue, and that the plays are hilarious regardless.The Introduction was very helpful to me, as I knew nothing of Coward's personal history. I had no idea he was so prolifically and precociously talented.

  • Patrick Neylan
    2019-02-13 12:15

    Coward's early plays display a biting wit - although the funniest jokes are in the character descriptions rather than the diaglogue - and a satirical savagery on 'modern' (i.e. 1920s) social mores. The theme is sexual and emotional repression, giving him the feel of an 'angry young man' three decades early.

  • Jess
    2019-01-22 10:25

    Finished Easy Virtue. Liked the movie better. There were definitely moments that were all Coward, but it felt almost cut short. Like someone had taken a Coward play and edited it. Perhaps that's why the movie is so different. This one doesn't even feel like a Coward play. But it was still fun and I'm glad I read it

  • Samuel
    2019-02-07 05:32

    Nothing short of excellence, which is the case with anything by Coward. It's astonishing how young he was when writing these. And he writes so well for women too!

  • SA
    2019-02-10 04:12

    This was for the BBC radio drama version of Easy Virtue. It's a Coward play, so it of course held charm and wit in spades.