THE VORTEX by Noel Coward
Rose Theatre, Kingston
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Coward's scraped-savings visit to New York in 1921 taught him two things which would serve him for a lifetime: that Broadway plays were performed at a much snappier pace than English comedies, and that if you were young and pretty and could play the piano, someone rich would invite you to a party. He was entertained frequently by the eccentric and flamboyant American actress Laurette Taylor and her diffident writer husband J. Hartley Manners and repaid them by picturing their characters in two early plays. In Hay Fever, it's affectionate and light-hearted, in The Vortex, it's cruel, and Stephen Unwin's vibrant but contradictory revival splendidly highlights the spite.
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I went to the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival at The Old Swan in Harrogate at the weekend. Authors, agents, editors, publicists, and - mos...