'The seventh volume in the Coward Collection. More of Coward''s plays in this new Methuen collection. Quadrille: ''Miss Fontanne plays the madcap Marchioness with the crackle and sheen of a five-pound note. Her eyes mock marvellously, her voice cuts like a knife into a wedding cake, and the scene in Act Three, on the eve of her elopement with Mr. Lung, is as delicious as crushed ice.'' Evening Standard, 1952 ''The idea of Peace in Our Time'', Coward wrote ''was conceived in Paris shortly after the Liberation. . . I began to suspect that the physical effect of four years intermittent bombing is far less damaging to the intrinsic character of a nation than the spiritual effect of four years enemy occupation.''
The volume also contains four pieces from the Tonight at 8.30 sequence: We Were Dancing ''provides a marvellously compact illustration of the way the English public school spirit prevails even in moments of strenuous passion''. ''Shadow Play is a musical fantasy. . . which gave Gertie and me a chance to sing as romantically as we could, dance in the moonlight and, we hoped, convince the audience that we were very fascinating indeed''; and ''Family Album - a sly satire on Victorian hypocrisy, adorned with an unobtrusive but agreeable musical score. It was stylised both in its decor and its performance, was a joy to play and provided the whole talented company with good parts''. Star Chamber, closely based on Coward''s experiences trying to co-ordinate his Actors'' Orphanage charity committee, is published here for the first time. The volume is introduced by Sheridan Morley, Coward''s first biographer, and includes an extensive chronology of Coward''s work. ''He is simply a phenomenon, and one that is unlikely to occur ever again in theatre history'' Terence Rattigan.
Noel Coward was born in 1899 in Teddington, Middlesex, and made his name as a playwright and lyricist of popular plays and songs, as well as writing fiction, three volumes of autobiography, and numerous reflections in other genres which number well over 100 different works. He was also a distinguished actor and cabaret performer, and one of this century''s greatest wits. He was knighted in 1970 and died three years later in Jamaica.'
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