Cowardly act escapist fare

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Noel and G1

Noël and Gertie|with words and music by Noël Coward

DIRECTOR: Alan Swerdlow

CAST: Jonathan Roxmouth, Taryn Sudding with accompanist Stefan Lombard

CHOREOGRAPHY: Taryn Sudding

VENUE: Pieter Toerien’s Studio Theatre in Montecasino

until: January 6 (Wednesday to Friday at 8.15pm, Saturday at 4.15pm and 8.15pm, Sunday at 3.15pm)

RATING: ****

If you’re a Noël Coward fan, this one’s a no-brainer. With Swerdlow and Roxmouth extending their nostalgia reviews following Hats Off and Topsy Turvy, they’ve opted for the revival of this fabulous show inviting Sudding on board as Gertrude Lawrence, who performs as the perfect foil for Roxmouth’s Coward.

It tells the story of their stage partnership, which started when they were children and lasted all their lives. It’s a fascinating story told through the witty writing of Coward in both plays and songs – many of which might be familiar, especially if you’re of a certain age.

It’s gorgeous stuff as they step (perhaps skip and flounce is more appropriate) back in time, with their tongues firmly in cheek, as they have fun with how things were done, but also pay homage to the wit and wisdom of Coward.

As you giggle through the always relevant Mrs Worthington and the silliness of Has Anybody Seen Our Ship? or dream away in Sudding’s exquisite Mad About the Boy, marvel at Roxmouth’s versatility in I Travel Alone, it’s a night of exquisite delight.

There’s a whimsical quality to the show with the two performers pitch-perfect as they fool around, pinpoint the essence of a sad song, or throw the ball smartly to and fro as they merrily mix the Coward banter with a marvellous song.

It’s easy and elegant with Swerdlow cleverly shaping the play in a particular fashion that captures the past yet never loses touch with the present.

Roxmouth seems to the manner born and with each inflection, placing of a foot against the wall, or a flick of his hand, a pause or simply holding the moment, he sweeps you along on this joyous journey.

Sudding matches him with a similar flourish in every sentence and song as she catches her breath to sing Sail Away, or rises to her partner’s accusations, but always in play.

It’s deluxe holiday fare and the kind of show that flies you off to a playful world. That’s exactly what we need to celebrate another year.

Hats off to this team.


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