Saturday, February 15, 2014

Noel Coward’s ‘The Vortex’ Venue: Gate Theatre Dublin Date: February/March 2014 Director: Annabelle Comyn.

Dublin’s historic Gate Theatre revives one of Noel Cowards most under appreciated masterpieces. Noel Coward’s controversial and leftfield piece caused a minor scandal in 1920s London where its heady mix of sex, hypocrisy and denial mixed with enough alcohol, tobacco and cocaine to shock even modern theatregoers, brought to the fore the more serious side of the occasionally superficial but always entertaining playwright and actor. This new 2014 production at Dublin’s Gate Theatre directed by Annabelle Comyn features a cleverly chosen mix of established and emerging actors and is the frst production from the Gate Theatre 2014 season. Flawlessly lit by Chahine Yavroyan and beautifully designed by Paul O’Mahony with costumes by Peter O’Brien, this Coward revival is further evidence of Micheal Colgan’s brilliant stewardship of the legendary Dublin Theatre. The Vortex, darker and less clichéd than much of Coward’s other work is one of his finest plays. As relevant today as when it was first produced almost a century ago, The Vortex is a beautifully written study of human need at its most visceral. The cast of this new production gel together beautifully under Comyn’s creative and innovative direction. ParticularLy impressive are Susannah Harker & Rory Fleck Byrne as Florence and Nicky Lancaster, the mother and son who share the same need for unconditional love and the same inability to achieve it. Star turns include Helen Saville’s beautifully observed ‘Fiona’ and an acerbic tour de force from Mark O’Regan as ‘Pauncefort Quentin’ one of Coward’s most amusingly written gay male characters. The Gate Theatre itself is thriving and producing theatre which compares extremely favourably with its West End counterparts. Its legendary founders, the late Hilton Edwards and Micheál MacLiammóir, would be delighted to see their creation still producing relevant and successful drama in the 21st century while continuing to attract some of the world’s leading actors and most importantly, sold out audiences. The Vortex runs at the Gate Theatre Dublin until March 22nd.

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