Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Talent to Abuse

The showdon'tell theatre company have brought "Relative Values", one of Noel Coward's less performed works from 1952, to the Colour House Theatre for AbbeyFest, so the profit burglar and I were duty bound to check it out.

It's a good production, but the class obsessed play itself is fairly loathsome. I'm no fan of "Look Back in Anger", but I can begin to understand that there was a need for the Angries to rebel against this sort of drawing room tosh in the Fifties.

It is interesting that "Relative Values" seems dated and obtuse in a way that "The Importance of Being Earnest" - which was on last week - doesn't even though it is twice as old.

Wilde's emphasis, in his fiction as well as his plays, that redemption is earned by kindness and damnation from vindictiveness makes his characters sympathetic as we understand that they are only pretending to be cynical. Coward's - at least in "Relative Values" - are all so vainglorious and self serving that, for all the much lauded wit, they grate rather than ingratiate.

(P.S. You should still go and see it though.)

1 comment:

John said...

Excellent prose, worthy of its subject matter.