I think I can see where the director, Anthony Page, is coming from - well I think I do? You see I would never have thought of casting Andrew Scott as Leo - he's too much of today, but if I wanted to make the characters more accessible to today's audience, that is to say more "believable", then that would be one of the ways to do it. I've seen my fair share of Coward's plays over the years and they are period pieces, but to simply perform them as they were done originally would be to lose much of the impact they first had. Sure it would be stylish and fun and everyone would have had a good time, but what of the underlying subtext? The sets were great but when set take precedence over performance mmhhh?! Better luck next time perhaps, but isn't that the reason we keep coming back time after time after.......X - rds
25 Nov 10
Fun, with spirited and amusing performances but so, so long! - addicted to theatre
12 Oct 10
With all due respect may I suggest that the cast study the body language that is so endemic to a Coward play. Gilda needs nail polish; the play needs editing! - Stradbroke
18 Sep 10
As Earthquakes in London has proved (twice) a three hour play can fly past but, conversely, as in the case for Design for Living, it can drag on interminably towards a long-overdue end. Noel Coward's relentless but frequently condescending witticisms cannot hide the fact that there is simply not enough story to sustain such a long running time. The permutations of Gilda, Otto, Leo and Ernest have long since been exhausted and the smug, patronising shallowness of the menage wore out its welcome sometime in Act 2. Tom Burke and Andrew Scott can't seem to work out which is the Coward character so both slp in and out of that style, although their drunk scene is very well played. Lisa Dillon was much better cast in Private Lives - Kim Cattrall would have been a fabulous Gilda. Angus Wright is impressive as Ernest and I felt like cheering his final Fawltyesque explosion against the self-satisfied "erotic hotchpotch". Lez Brotherston's sets are amazing, espcially the third act New York apartment but Anthony Page's production is hard work - unforgiveable for a Coward comedy. - David Baxter
18 Sep 10
Amazed to see Hersey's name as LD! I thought he had retired to sail on his yacht! Welcome back David! - Seb Petit
17 Sep 10
I will always go to see a Noel Coward play because I enjoy the wit and sparkle of his texts but there is a fear that one day I will find it old fashioned and irrelevant. Oh good grief no! Design for Living is for everyone who refuses to be bound by middle class conventions and strikes a chord today much as it did back in the thirties. The cast are superb (and I am not going to single anyone out; it is truly an ensemble piece) and the applause winning sets are stunning - being an art deco fan makes me biased I suppose!
What an utter utter treat and especially relevant to see it on the eve of the Pope's visit! - Tom Hough
17 Sep 10
If I could time-travel, one of the things I might choose would be to attend the first night of this play in 1933 to hear the tutís and watch the open mouths. It feels completely modern today, so it must have been positively ground-breaking then, even though Iím sure some of it went right over their heads! Itís a menage a trois between a female interior designer, a male artist and a male playwright that starts in an artistís attic garret in Paris, moves to the elegant London flat of the playwright and ends up on the 30th floor of an art deco apartment in a New York skyscraper where the designer is living with her unloved husband. It has a beautifully crafted rounded structure and the dialogue absolutely sparkles. It puts sex and sexuality centre-stage and is so much more than Cowardís trademark social comedies.
The three central performances Ė Lisa Dillon, Tom Burke and Andrew Scott Ė are wonderful and the sexual chemistry between them is electric. There is a superb supporting performance from Angus Wright (who has wasted so much time in Katie Mitchell deconstructions of late) as the used man who in the final act explodes a la Basil Fawlty. Amongst the rest of the cast, Maggie McCarthy makes an exquisite contribution as the second act housekeeper. Iíve only seen the play once before, but director Anthony Page makes so much more of it here. It looks gorgeous too, with three brilliant designs from Lez Brotherston, culminating in the NYC apartment that I actually wanted to move into after the show! Another wonderful night at the Old Vic. - Gareth James
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