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Publisher's Summary

Seven BBC radio full-cast productions of Noël Coward’s classic plays – plus bonus material including a profile of Coward and extracts from his diaries. 

Renowned for his wit, style and sophistication, Noël Coward was one of the greatest playwrights of the 20th century. His plays, set in the glittering world of high society in which he lived, are much admired and have remained in the popular theatre repertoire to this day.

This collection brings together the very best radio adaptations of Coward’s works, encompassing sparkling comedies of manners 'Private Lives' and 'Hay Fever', farcical ghost story 'Blithe Spirit', and daring ménage à trois drama 'Design for Living'. Here, too, is his controversial first hit 'The Vortex'; the poignant 'Still Life' (the inspiration for the film Brief Encounter); and the semi-autobiographical 'Present Laughter'.

Among the star-studded cast are Helena Bonham-Carter, Bill Nighy, Judi Dench, Celia Imrie, Roger Allam, Harriet Walter, Paul Rhys, Stephanie Cole and Paul Scofield.

Also included is a BBC World Service profile of Noël Coward, comprising interviews, musical extracts and archive clips; and the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘From His Diaries’, featuring a selection of passages from Coward’s journal read by Simon Cadell.
 

Track listing:

 1-2: Private Lives
3-4: Hay Fever
5-6: Blithe Spirit
7-10: Design for Living
11-12: The Vortex
13: Still Life
14-16: Present Laughter
17: Meridian: Noël Coward profile
18-20: Noël Coward - From His Diaries
 

Private Lives
Amanda…Helena Bonham-Carter
Elyot…Bill Nighy
Sibyl…Andrea Riseborough
Victor…Paul Ritter
Louise…AnnaRose Cattanach
Directed by Sally Avens
 

Hay Fever
Judith Bliss…Judi Dench
David Bliss…Michael Williams
Richard Greatham…Geoffrey Palmer
Marya Arundel…Celia Imrie
Jackie Coryton…Patricia Brake
Sandy Tyrell…Christopher Blake
Simon Bliss…Patrick Pearson
Sorel Bliss…Alison Reid
Qara…Patricia Hayes
Directed by Leslie Lawton
 

Blithe Spirit
Charles…Roger Allam
Madame Arcati…Maggie Steed
Elvira…Zoe Waites
Ruth…Hermione Gulliford
Dr Bradman…David Killick
Mrs Bradman…Tilly Tremayne
Edith…Natalie Cassidy
Directed by Philip Franks
 

Design for Living
Gilda…Cheryl Campbell
Otto…Alex Jennings
Leo…Michael Kitchen
Ernest Friedman…James Laurenson
Mr Birbeck…Alan Barker
Henry Carver…Bradley Lavell
Miss Hodge/Helen…Joanna Myers
Grace Torrence…Linda Marlowe
Directed by Ned Chaillet
 

The Vortex
Florence Lancaster…Harriet Walter
Nicky…Paul Rhys
Helen…Frances Jeater
Pawnie…John Rye
Clara Hibbert…Jenny Funnell
Tom Veryan…Robert Portal
David Lancaster…Peter Blythe
Bunty Mainwaring…Federay Holmes
Bruce Fairlight…Keith Drinkel
Preston…Pamela Grace
Directed by John Tydeman
 

Still Life
Laura Lesson…Amanda Root
Dr Alec Harvey…John Duttine
Myrtle Bagott…Stephanie Cole
Albert Godby…Trevor Peacock
Beryl Waters/Lady on Train…Sunny Ormonde
Stanley…Brian Parr
Dolly Messiter…Josephine Tewson
Bill…Richard Curnow
Johnny/Guard…Malcolm McKee
Directed by Sue Wilson
 

Present Laughter
Gary Essendine…Paul Scofield
Liz Essendine…Joy Parker
Monica Reed…Patricia Routledge
Joanna Lyppiatt…Fenella Fielding
Henry Lyppiatt…Alan Rowe
Morris Dixon…Bernard Joyner
Daphne Stillington…Miriam Margolyes
Lady Saltburn…Betty Huntley-Wright
Fred…Timothy Bateson
Miss Erikson…Diana Olsson
Roland Maule…David Timson
Produced by Ian Cotterell  

©2018 BBC Worldwide Ltd (P)2018 BBC Worldwide Ltd

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Some good plays...

Some good plays, some not. But all, performed by very fine actors. With a healthy dose of the playwright himself after you're done listening to the last play.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Knucklebones
  • 10-19-18

Blowing hot and cold

I'm afraid out of the seven plays I only enjoyed three of them: 'Private Lives' (wonderfully performed and as pertinent today as when it was written), the other-worldly 'Blithe Spirit' and the poignant 'Still Life'. The remainder, unfortunately, have dated very badly, leaving just an irritating shrill memory in their wake.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful