Who's a Coward?

Darlings, it is the end of January, and therefore time to celebrate a playwright! Royal MTC's Master Playwright Festival honours British playwright Noël Coward this year, which means we're in for some fun. Contrary to many of the previous playwrights, Coward's work is characteristically comedic -- he writes silly people existing in a frivolous time, focusing primarily on the English upper classes in the earlier parts of the 20th century. Gin, champagne, music, parties, fabulous clothes -- what could be better! Yet it is all under-pinned with a sense that there are more serious matters hiding beneath the decadence. Less hearty than American contemporary F. Scott Fitzgerald's scathing account, Coward's characters inhabit a world of fun and games, where the seriousness of their predicament and the impact of their choices is left for another day's discussion.

As usual, several local companies are stepping up with productions: Royal MTC present Private Lives, directed by Krista Jackson who has become a staple in the MTC Master Playwright camp for the past few years. Echo Theatre go site-specific, with Coward's ghost-addled Blithe Spirit presented at Ralph Connor House, which is bound to be a fantastic time. There are also some indie shows, including Noël Collaborates, a new work based on Coward's correspondence with long-time friend Esme Wynn, and book-ending the first play either wrote called Ida Collaborates.

My own contribution to the festival is of a slightly different tone. For me, Coward is about marvellous parties and adventure, so my creative partner and I have put together a one-night event called Tonight At Eight, which is essentially a Coward party you can come and enjoy, rather than watch from the opposite side of the proscenium! There are adventures to be had, all in good fun. Our show is at the RAW gallery on McDermot, February 7 only.

For more info on Tonight At Eight, visit our Facebook Event.

And check out the festival's website for a complete listing.