Sunday, 6 December 2009
Sunday Night is... Noel Coward
Coward in 1955 on American TV absolutely ripping through 'Mad Dogs and Englishmen'. The man is just too too brilliant, dear boy. His timing is out of this world. 'Same native, pay no attention...'
On Friday to see the UEA students performing Ödön von Horváth's Tales from the Vienna Woods. They do a rather good job with some smart direction, right down to the risqué café scene that begins and occupies most of the second part after the interval. Horváth was terrified of thunderstorms and was killed by a falling branch on the Champs d'Elysée in the middle of a thunderstorm. He was thirty-six. Like all Hungarians he was vastly productive but he wrote in German. This was the Christopher Hampton translation.
It's as much cabaret as play, very dark and very acid, somewhere between Brecht, Wedekind and a more petit bourgeois Joseph Roth, an original variation on the idea of the 'Folk Play' or Volksstuck. It's the '30s. The Austrians are all busy giving Nazi salutes. They are all hypocrites. They are pretty well all decadent. Some are downright evil. Some are faintly likeable. But they sing throughout. The plot is essentially a moral melodrama, but it's the vignettes that carry the pace.
I wish it were a less timely piece.