Coward at Christmas

Your reviewer likes to think of himself as middle aged- (this would be true if he makes it to 112 years old) and when the weather is more like the South Atlantic than the South of France he feels entitled to sit and watch repeats on the television as there is generally nothing that will not wait until tomorrow.

Recently during a episode of Poirot one of the characters urged us that “mark my words….Noel Coward is just a passing phase” ….just before he meets a sticky end (in humble opinion deservedly) at the hands of Lady Edgeware.

This week’s performance at the Theatre de Colombier by Simon Green and David Shrubsole showed how wrong that prediction proved to be. Their review “Coward at Christmas” was at times achingly current and the audience visibly winced as Green sung about politicians leading us to oblivion with their self  important foolishness. At other times it was full of fun and rapier like wit as one would hope and culminated in songs that revealed his inner sadness, loneliness and self doubt that seemed to be his bete noire.

Spanning the works of Coward from early days right through to the end of his life, the show is constructed so that you are able to follow the actor, playwright and wordsmith on his own personal journey. Beginning with Cowards promise to “follow his secret heart”. Having this song performed live gave the lyrics far more weight and meaning than listening to a mere recording and help us to understand a little more the complexity of the man.

 It was fascinating to see how  David and Simon moved from self doubt to pomp and then to melancholy whilst keeping the audience enraptured. Not only does Simon Green have a captivating presence and extraordinary command of the English language, but married with the empathy of David Shrubsoles accompaniment it became a delight

This was true throughout the performance as  Simon and David moved with a graceful ease that only comes from hundreds of hours of rehearsal and dozens of performances to perfect the final product and brings the true meanings of the lyrics to life.

This years offering at the FET have been of an extraordinarily high standard- not least due to the efforts of Donald Douglas who continues to exert his expert influence- and we are fortunate that next year we get the opportunity to see him in the production that he is taking to South Africa in 2019.