"plenty of comedy and laughs"
by Aline Waites for remotegoat on 05/05/18

An interesting idea by Tom Littler to ask for three short plays inspired by and in the conversational style of Noel Coward’s Tonight at 8.30. Nine of the Coward plays are currently playing at Jermyn Street. These three modern plays involving three actresses are directed with intelligence and heart by Stella Powell-Jones. and all are extremely effective.

‘Smite’ by Morna Young is my favourite. . It is a well thought out story and it matches very well with The Astonished heart which is, in my opinion, Coward’s weakest This version of the story is socially conscious and appropriate for the ‘me too’ generation.

Tom Turner has committed suicide. This play concerns the meeting together of Trisha his wife who has been working in Scotland and his mistress Allie who has been living with him in London. Trisha, talks a lot out of embarrassment –coping with the shock of finding out about her husband’s secret love life, trying to be civilised, asking ‘Would you like a cup of tea?’ and then realising it should be Allie who should be playing hostess. Allie remains very silent as Trish chatters on about her self and her life. But we find out there is more to the story than just a love affair. It is beautifully performed with Laila Paine as Trish and Laura Morgan as Allie

Emma Harding has written ‘The Thing itself’ – a shadow comedy set in Iceland during a volcanic ash storm. There is a hallucinogenic feeling as if time and place are as vague as the light outside. Elaine Claxton is Vic a photographer with a self-deprecating sense of humour, her marriage partner is Simone (Laila Paine) a microbiologist who thinks their love has grown stale and wants a change. When she leaves a young journalist Hann(Laura Morgan) appears as a ghost as does Simone who arrives to revisit their first meeting. There is no explanation. It just happens.

Jenny Ayres took as her inspiration a railway platform as in the film Brief Encounter. Laura Morgan plays a woman who has been stood up by her lover and having gotten herself totally drunk, throws up all over the station platform. She meets on a bench an old lady called Mags (Elaine Claxton) who says she is waiting for her brother. The very versatile Laila Paine plays Clarke, a West Indian official of the station who has to clear up . Both women are worried about Mags who is very funny, but there is a deeper and tragic story behind the characters in this story.

All three plays resemble the Coward conversations. There is plenty of comedy lots of laughs and there is always a sudden dramatic turn round at the end which gives a sometimes surprising view of humanity. They all work very well as conversation pieces. A successful experiment.

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