Review: Noel Coward’s Tonight at 8.30 at Theatre Royal Brighton

Tonight at 8.30  Nuffield and English Touring Theatre present the first major revival in the UK of all nine one-act plays by Nuffield and English Touring Theatre  Performed as three trios in repertory.  Directed by Blanche McIntyre

Tonight at 8.30 Nuffield and English Touring Theatre present the first major revival in the UK of all nine one-act plays by Nuffield and English Touring Theatre Performed as three trios in repertory. Directed by Blanche McIntyre

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Clever, funny, and thought provoking - Noel Coward’s Tonight at 8.30, currently showing at Theatre Royal Brighton has you laughing, crying and at times feeling a tad uncomfortable.

Director Blanche McIntyre has cleverly taken the collection of plays and split them up to run over four nights to encompass the full kaleidoscopic range of Coward’s writing.

The performance by the English Touring Theatre and Nuffield, is the first major UK revival of the collection of nine one act plays since Coward starred in them in 1936.

I [reporter Amie Morrell] went along to the opening night and saw Ways and Means, Fumed Oak and Still Life.

Ways and Means follows married couple Stella and Toby Cartwright, (played by Kirsty Besterman and Gyuri Sarossy) who riddled with debt, are desperately trying to cling on to their self-respect and persona of being well off and care free.

The play follows a hilarious set of circumstances where the debt keeps mounting up and the solutions to solve it keep falling down.

I was rolling around in my seat with laughter - especially when Stevens - a respected valet, turns to a life of crime and breaks into the couple’s bedroom. They are forced to admit they are broke and all three soon hatch a plan to make some much needed money. What follows is hilarious - this was easily my favourite of the three plays.

After a five minute break - the curtain went up on the second play of the evening Fumed Oak. This followed a family repressed by an overbearing wife/mother. The husband/dad Henry Gow (played by Peter Singh) is at first very much in the background. He quietly eats his tea as his wife, mother-in-law and daughter bicker around him.

But he is not in the shadows for long, one night he comes home from work and after two whisky and sodas, builds up the courage to tell his family exactly what he thinks of them.

I mentioned feeling uncomfortable at times, and this is the play where this comes to fruition. It is funny and captivating, but some of the scenes do leave you feeling a little shocked.

Last up was Still Life. This was the original version of the film Brief Encounter. I found this wonderful. It was so gentle with likeable characters and a touch of humour.

A chance meeting between Laura Jesson (Shereen Martin) and Alec Harvey (Gyuri Sarossy) at a train station cafe send them on a whirlwind of romance - but both being married to other people makes it a rough journey.

Meanwhile two other love stories are playing out between cafe owner Myrtle Bagot (Amy Cudden) and Albert Godby (Peter Singh) and Beryl Waters (Kirsty Besterman) and Stanley (Orlando Wells).

I would just also like to take a minute to mention the wonderful set. It is so simple, and really lets you focus on the fantastic acting. I particularly enjoyed the use of the lights as well - during Ways and Means there is a scene where the sun is meant to be rising and filling the couples bedroom with light, and it really feels like it. In Still Life, it is cleverly used to mimic a train passing by.

The star of the show for me was Kirsty Besterman. She played three very different parts in the three plays and showed the diversity of her skill.

If you haven’t booked your tickets yet, do it now. You won’t be disappointed.

The performance runs until Saturday (July 19). On Saturday audiences will have the chance to see the full theatrical spectacle of the production in a special triple bill when all nine plays performed on the same day.

To book tickets call 0844 871 7650 or visit www.atgtickets.com/brighton.