Six phenomenally sophisticated Noël Coward comedies:
Fallen Angels: Julia and Fred and Willy and Jane are happily married and the best of friends, until a postcard arrives with news of the imminent arrival of a certain handsome Frenchman. Suave, debonair, and utterly stylish. Performed by: Annette Bening, Harriet Harris, Judith Ivey, Joe Mantegna, John Rubinstein, and Kristoffer Tabori.
Hay Fever: A country house weekend goes haywire when the guests and their hosts play a game of romantic musical chairs. This witty masterpiece is filled with Coward’s biting commentary on his own profession. Performed by: Tate Donovan, Arabella Field, Joy Gregory, Jeffrey Jones, Lynne Marta, Serena Scott Thomas, Carolyn Seymour, Eric Stoltz, and Simon Templeman.
Private Lives: On the French Riviera, the lights of a yacht are reflected in the water and in the eyes of four hilariously mismatched lovers. Perhaps Coward’s greatest comedy, Private Lives shimmers with romance, desire and bittersweet truth. Performed by: Rosalind Ayres, Marnie Mosiman, Ian Ogilvy, Begonya Plaza, and Kristoffer Tabori.
Design For Living: Three terminally stylish friends attempt to uncoil their twisted love triangle in this sexy and scandalous gem. Written in 1932, the play was deemed extremely daring, and is controversial even by today’s standards. Performed by: Michelle Arthur, Claire Forlani, Thomas Hildreth, Tim Morrison, Sarah Rafferty, Douglas Weston, and Hamish Linklater.
Present Laughter: Stage star Garry Essendine struggles to plan his trip to Africa while his flat is invaded by a love struck ingénue, an adulterous producer, a married seductress, Garry’s estranged wife Liz and an aspiring playwright who is quite, quite mad. Performed by: Gregory Cooke, Arthur Hanket, Jon Matthews, Ian Oglivy, Siri O’Neal, Christina Pickles, Carolyn Seymour, and Yeardley Smith.
Blithe Spirit: A convivial evening party among friends is transformed when a séance conjures the ghost of Elvira, the host’s first wife, who delights in wreaking havoc among the living. An absolutely enchanting Coward comedy. Performed by: Rosalind Ayres, Alexandra Boyd, Judy Geeson, Shirley Knight, Lynne Marta, Christopher Neame, and Ian Ogilvy.
Exclusive bonus material: Two rarely-performed shorts by Noël Coward, Design for Rehearsing (performed by Michael Gladis, Matthew Wolf, and Sarah Zimmerman) and Age Cannot Wither (performed by Juliet Mills, Susan Sullivan, and JoBeth Williams), as well as two conversations on Coward with Barry Day (Noël Coward Foundation) and John Lahr (The New Yorker).
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