Coward Plays: 4: Blithe Spirit; Present Laughter; This Happy Breed; Tonight at 8.30 (ii)

A&C Black
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Volume Four of Noël Coward's plays contains a selection of Coward's
plays from the thirties and forties which includes Blithe Spirit, a
comedy that centres around the spirit medium Madame Arcati. The play
that mocks sudden death was produced at precisely the moment when bombs
were bringing it to Britain "I shall ever be grateful, for the almost
psychic gift that enabled me to write Blithe Spirit in five days during
one of the darkest years of the war." The play was for years the
longest-running comedy in the history of British theatre. Present
Laughter
follows the life of Garry Essendine, a world-weary,
middle-aged projection of the dilettante, debonair persona -
self-obsessed and dressing-gowned who struts through the play like an
educated peacock. It is a comedy about the 'theatricals' that Noël best
knew and loved, and was originally a star vehicle for himself. It is
the closest to an autobiographical play that Coward ever wrote.



This
Happy Breed
is a saga of a lower middle-class family; and three shorter
pieces fromTonight at 8.30 - is a farce set in the South of France,
and serves as an oblique tribute to Frederick Lonsdale; The Astonished
Heart
is about the decay of a psychiatrist's mind through personal
sexual obsession. Red Peppers, which closes the volume, was a cynical
tribute to the lost music halls of the First World War.
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About the author

Noël Coward was born in 1899 in Teddington, Middlesex. He made his name as a playwright with The Vortex (1924), in which he also appeared. His numerous other successful plays included Fallen Angels (1925), Hay Fever (1925), Private Lives (1933), Design for Living (1933) and Blithe Spirit (1941). During the war he wrote screenplays such as Brief Encounter (1944) and In Which We Serve (1942). In the fifties he began a new career as a cabaret entertainer. He published volumes of verse and a novel (Pomp and Circumstance, 1960), two volumes of autobiography and four volumes of short stories: To Step Aside (1939), Star Quality (1951), Pretty Polly Barlow (1964) and Bon Voyage (1967). He was knighted in 1970 and died three years later in Jamaica.
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Additional Information

Publisher
A&C Black
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Published on
Nov 12, 2013
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Pages
512
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ISBN
9781408162170
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Language
English
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Genres
Drama / General
Literary Criticism / Drama
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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