The Theatreguide.London Review
In March 2020 the covid-19 epidemic
closure of all British theatres. Some companies adapted by putting
archive recordings of past productions online, others by streaming new
shows. Until things return to normal we review the experience of
watching live theatre
A Marvellous Party
Stream Theatre Autumn 2020
A welcome addition to
the growing body of a new art form, Zoom Theatre, this salute to Noel
Coward has about twenty performers, mainly British, offering
entertaining excerpts from Coward's writings, for the most part in
solo spots in front of their computers.
Produced by the online
company Stream Theatre, it is a fundraiser on behalf of charities for
the theatre community's suddenly-unemployed.
Unlike the similar
Sondheim tribute also available online, the emphasis here is on
Coward's poetry and memoirs rather than songs.
Derek Jacobi offers a
spirited and engaging reading of 'I Can Remember,' Coward's poetic
reverie on his days as a child actor, Emma Thompson wickedly
underplays the satire of trendy psychoanalysis in 'Mrs Mallory,' and
Kristine Nielsen lets all the stops out in Coward's bitter demolition
of a gossip columnist in 'The Lady At The Party.'
introduces the just-under-an-hour program, makes the first charity
appeal, and then returns later to revel in all the fun of Coward's
salute to a jolly widow, 'A Bar In The Piccola Marina,' zipping
through it in a way that reminds us of Coward's debt to Gilbert and
Robert Lindsay pops up
from time to time to deliver with
admirable dryness one or another of Coward's witticisms and
one-liners, and the visuals are repeatedly punctuated with snapshots
of Coward at play.
Some of the other
recitations are marred a bit by
our seeing the performers' eyes darting nervously toward the scripts
or cue cards just off camera, and although Judi Dench features
prominently in the cast list, she is limited to a brief charity
The musical offerings
are uneven. Bebe Neuwirth's 'Why Do The
Wrong People Travel' is a bit too languid and Giles Terera's a
capella 'If Love Were All' too sterile.
But the best is left for
as Patricia Routledge jollies her way through an infectiously happy
celebration of the idle rich at their naughtiest ('people's behaviour
away from Belgravia') in an hour-capping 'I Went To A Marvellous
Well worth an hour of your time, and well worth a donation to a good cause.
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