Three plays: Blithe spirit, Hay fever, Private lives

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Vintage Books, 1999 - Drama - 254 pages
24 Reviews
Languid aristocrats with a taste for martinis and a gift for repartee. Bright young things who keep their composure even when confronted with proof of their latest indiscretion. Wit as effervescent as a sip of Dom Perignon, and a sensibility that effortlessly reconciles cynicism and romance. These qualities made Noel Coward one of the most popular play-wrights of the 1930s and '40s -- and ensured that his plays became classics. Here, three of his most irresistible comedies of manners are available in a single volume.

In Blithe Spirit, Charles Condomine receives a visit from his first wife, Elvira. Unfortunately, Charles is now married to Ruth, and Elvira is a ghost. The bohemian protagonists of Hay Fever wreak emotional havoc on a houseful of weekend visitors. In Private Lives, a recently divorced couple find themselves in adjoining hotel rooms while on honeymoon with their new -- and wholly unsuitable -- spouses. Giddy, elegant, and unflappably serene in their appreciation of human vice and folly, these plays are Coward at his finest.

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Review: Three Plays: Blithe Spirit / Hay Fever / Private Lives

User Review  - Paul Frandano - Goodreads

So...I bought this only for Private Lives, because I knew I'd be going to a well-reviewed DC production, and, if possible, I like to read a play before I see it - an acquired preference from classical ... Read full review

Review: Three Plays: Blithe Spirit / Hay Fever / Private Lives

User Review  - Joey Gamble - Goodreads

Splendid! Coward's the master of the drawing-room. Read full review

Contents

Section 1
3
Section 2
8
Section 3
9
Copyright

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About the author (1999)

In 1964, when Hay Fever (1925) was placed in the repertory of the newly organized National Theatre, Noel Coward professed to be grateful: "Bless you for admitting that I'm a classic." A week-long series of Coward played on BBC television in 1969; there have been major revivals in London and New York; plays long out of print have been republished in popular collections. At the start of the 1960s, though, Coward's reputation had been at an ebb, as he skirmished with the angry new drama. Coward had enjoyed no big success since Blithe Spirit of 1941. There have been attempts to assimilate the rehabilitated Coward to contemporary drama. Coward himself profited from the new freedom when, in 1965, his Song at Twilight discussed homosexuality, a subject that he had evaded throughout his career. A juvenile prodigy, Coward was by turns actor, director, composer, lyricist, autobiographer, and author of nearly 60 theater pieces. He even wrote screenplays, notably for In Which We Serve (1942) and Brief Encounter (1946). Although he specialized in light comedy, the so-called comedy of manners, he worked in many forms including patriotic spectacle, revue, musical, farce, even the problem play. Hay Fever, Blithe Spirit, and Private Lives (1930) have proved to be the most durable of his comedies, along with nine short plays presented as Tonight at 8:30. In each, characters demonstrate the combination of perpetual role playing, cool hedonism, and energizing self-absorption.

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