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Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Never heard of Bill Kenwright’s touring production of Volcano by Noël Coward? That’s because it’s a recently discovered ‘lost’ play, unperformed in his lifetime. And watching it, I can see why.
The volcano, which blows its top spectacularly in act two, is a thinly disguised metaphor for the bubbling resentments preoccupying a bunch of self-obsessed middle class whingers. Set on a Pacific island in 1958, Jenny Seagrove heads a hard-working cast that does its best with stodgy lines and clichéd situations.
Vintage Noël Coward this ain’t. It often resembles a clunky Agatha Christie play, but without the excitement of a murder.
Roy Marsden’s direction does nothing to make the dull script interesting.
Despite strong performances from Jason Durr, Ellen Danbury and Dawn Steele, the cast are overshadowed by Simon Scullion’s impressive set design. Jenny Seagrove has no obvious charisma, and the whole production lacks energy from start to finish.
Anyone expecting the wit and irreverence of Hay Fever or Blithe Spirit will be disappointed. If Coward’s name were not above the title, this feeble effort would still be languishing at the bottom of a drawer somewhere.