Tonight at 8.30 is a collection of ten remarkably varied short plays written by Noel Coward in 1935 for him to perform alongside Gertrude Lawrence. This volume brings all ten plays together with a preface by Coward and an introduction by Barry Day.
Noel Coward was born in 1899 in Teddington, Middlesex. He made his name as a playwright with The Vortex (1924), in which he also appeared. His numerous other successful plays included Fallen Angels (1925), Hay Fever (1925), Private Lives (1933), Design for Living (1933) and Blithe Spirit (1941). During the war he wrote screenplays such as Brief Encounter (1944) and In Which We Serve (1942). In the fifties he began a new career as a cabaret entertainer. He published volumes of verse and a novel (Pomp and Circumstance, 1960), two volumes of autobiography and four volumes of short stories: To Step Aside (1939), Star Quality (1951), Pretty Polly Barlow (1964) and Bon Voyage (1967). He was knighted in 1970 and died three years later in Jamaica.
. . . the nine plays . . . not only prove unexpectedly nourishing, but also reveal a lot about the author himself . . . he had an extraordinary facility with dialogue, grasped the comic potential of adverbs and used music inventively . . . You may not end the day liking Coward the man, but these plays . . . confirm that he was a master of the short form. * Guardian * Here are broken hearts, crazed middle-aged longings and doomed middle-class infidelities, the spectre of financial ruin, the ghastliness of marital bickering and the yearning for what has been and gone, the longing to arrest time and recover lost youth. These themes are handled with a light, sometimes brutally funny touch and are brought home at points by dreamy flourishes of make-believe. * Telegraph * It is not every day that we get such a feast of pure entertainment. . . . There is a little something for everyone. From vaudeville to satire; from love at first sight to a rather jovial funeral. . . . What better way to celebrate Noel Coward than with these rarely seen short plays? . . . A treat I would recommend. * Whatsonstage *