Felicity Kendal (pictured) and Dan Stevens star in Sir Peter Hall’s new production of Noel Coward’s 1924 play The Vortex which opens tonight (13 November 2007) at the Theatre Royal Windsor, where it runs until 1 December, ahead of an expected West End transfer in the new year.

Coward’s savage portrayal of 1920s cocktail society centres on the tempestuous relationship between glamorous socialite Florence Lancaster (Kendal) and her hedonistic musician son Nicky (Stevens), whose new girlfriend is wooed by Florence’s toyboy lover. The Vortex (the title refers to the "youth vortex of beastliness") launched the then 25-year-old Noel Coward’s career as a playwright and leading man.

Felicity Kendal was seen in the West End last year in Hall’s revival of David Hare’s Amy’s View. She's also been directed by Hall in Amadeus and Othello at the National, and Waste, The Seagull, An Absolute Turkey and, in 2003, Beckett’s Happy Days in the West End. Best known to TV fans for The Good Life, Kendal's other West End credits include Humble Boy, Fallen Angels and Alarms and Excursions.

Dan Stevens starred alongside Judi Dench last year in Coward’s Hay Fever at the West End’s Theatre Royal Haymarket, also directed by Hall. His other credits include The Line of Beauty and Sense and Sensibility on TV, and on stage, The Romans in Britain and Peter Hall Company productions of Much Ado About Nothing and As You Like It, for which he received an Ian Charleson Award nomination.

The last major London revival of The Vortex starred Chiwetel Ejiofor and Francesca Annis at the Donmar Warehouse in 2002. Last year, Manchester’s Royal Exchange made headlines with its production, which featured pop star Will Young making his professional stage debut as Nicky (See News, 22 Jun 2006). No dates or venue have yet been confirmed for the West End transfer of Peter Hall’s new production.

- by Terri Paddock