It may (or may not!) surprise you to hear that prior to this show, I knew little about the dynamic duo that was Noël Coward and Gertrude Lawrence, who dominated the stage in the early 20th Century. Surprisingly, that did little to mar this production, which is a wonderful overview of the trials, triumphs, and tribulations of these creative paragons.
Directed by Nancye Hayes, this enchanting production features James Millar and Lucy Maunder as Noël and Gertie. I won’t spill any plot details here, as the story is all the more captivating if you’re not aware of how their lives panned out. Starting from their fateful meeting in their childhood, Hayes takes us on a musical journey through the eventful lives of these crooners. Millar and Maunder flawlessly and seamlessly shift from storytelling to singing. Their singing? Marvelous, harmonious, soulful … something that must be heard.
Dialect Coach Jennifer White, deserves a hearty pat on the back (at the very least) for the wonderfully authentic accents Millar and Maunder portray. More than being genuinely English, their accents are true to the era, and I can only imagine the effort that must have gone into this preparation. The set design and construction (Graham Maclean) is a superb replica of early century Art Deco, and looks sturdier and more impressive than my own rental unit (which I think is pretty fab, FYI).
Resist the temptation to look at Wikipedia to find out exactly who Noël and Gertie are – this journey is that bit more magical and transcending if you allow yourself to be swept along with the plot (inspired by plays, letters, and other writings of Noël Coward). And if you do know their story, you are certainly bound to relish in this professional and exuberantly enjoyable retelling of this tale of living your life in the limelight.
You only have a few days folks, don’t miss out! If you’re curious for a tad more, check out this video of Nancye Hayes introducing her production, and the magic of Noël Coward, and his muse Gertrude Lawrence.
Reviewed by Nathan Giaccio
Venue: Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre
Season: 23 – 27 July
Duration: 2 hours
Tickets: $45.00 – $55.00
Bookings: Book at BASS
Photo Credit: Nicholas Higgins