Pure explosive theatre

Bill Kenwright production of'THE VOLCANO'by Noel Coward'directed by Roy Marsden
Bill Kenwright production of'THE VOLCANO'by Noel Coward'directed by Roy Marsden

Volcano, Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne

VOLCANO was written in the latter days of Noel Coward’s life when he was living in Jamaica and he has set it in the steamy atmosphere of the Caribbean which he knew and loved.

Simon Scullion has designed a great set which really gives you an indication of what it must be like living on the slopes of a volcano surrounded by banana plantations and Matthew Bugg’s sound effects as the volcano rumbles away and finally erupts sets an eerie atmosphere throughout.

Against this exotic background the play takes place over two weeks in 1958 in the house owned by recently widowed Adela Shelley, superbly played by Jenny Seagrove who has formed a close non-sexual friendship with the suave womaniser Guy Littleton equally well-played by Jason Durr from Heartbeat.

Their summer of fun is interrupted by the arrival from England of his wife Melissa who is played by Wild At Heart’s Dawn Steele. She is anxious to meet her husband’s latest conquest and the meeting takes place at an awkward dinner party which includes Adele’s best friend Grizelda (Finty Williams) and her husband Robin (Robin Sebastian). Throw in another friend Ellen Danbury (Perdita Avery) who is young and beautiful and immediately catches Guy’s eye.

This is a play full of sexual tension and frustration and it was never performed in Coward’s lifetime, this is the first major tour en route to London’s West End.

Roy Marsden’s direction and the acting of the entire cast is possibly better than the script but it is worth seeing for the acting alone. It is pure theatre and well worth a visit.

Amanda Wilkins