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Design for Living (Modern Plays) Reprint Edition

4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1408140079
ISBN-10: 1408140071
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Editorial Reviews


'one of Coward's most provocative plays' Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard (London), 16.9.10 'its fusion of passion and mischief remains striking and there is something undeniably heady about its celebration of a kind of sexual liberation that looks a lot like flippancy' Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard (London), 16.9.10 'Coward's chosen title means the play sounds like a manifesto. It isn't. But it does present an audacious case for the pleasures of irresponsibility.' Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard (London), 16.9.10 'the play offers a genuine contest between the bohemian talentocracy and moral orthodoxy.' Michael Billington, Guardian, 16.9.10 'Coward's play addresses the peculiar disappointments of success, the misplaced nostalgia felt by renowned artists for their years of struggle, and the tragic fact that celebrity propels one into the company of billionaire halfwits. Kurt Cobain, who found success a prison he had to shoot his way out of, would have appreciated this strange and sometimes extraordinarily wrathful play.' Lloyd Evans, Spectator, 25.9.10 'The play may, in part, be about the love that dare not speak its name, yet what cannot be said is ardently implied in this fast-and-loose, extravagant, hilarious exploration of passion between two men and a woman.' Kate Kellaway, Observer, 19.9.10 'Noel Coward's Design for Living is a funny and sad study of bisexuality: Otto and Leo love each other, but they also love Gilda, and she, in turn, loves them both.' Tim Walker, Sunday Telegraph, 19.9.10 'Three's company, two's a crowd in this 1933 Noel Coward comedy about an arty trio who wind up in a menage a trois.' Paul Taylor, Independent, 20.9.10 'Noel Coward's 1932 play is a whirl of passions, exquisite poses and pain, travelling in style from Paris to London and New York, each act presenting a new erotic arrangement of the menage a trois. It's elegant and sparkling.' Sam Marlowe, Time Out (London), 23.9.10

About the Author

Noël Coward made his name as a playwright with The Vortex (1924), in which he also appeared. His numerous other successful plays included Hay Fever, Private Lives, Design for Living, and Blithe Spirit. During the war he wrote screenplays such as Brief Encounter (1944) and This Happy Breed (1942). His volumes of verse, autobiography and letters have all been published to acclaim by Methuen Drama. Coward was knighted in 1970 and died three years later in Jamaica.

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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Plays
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Methuen Drama; Reprint edition (March 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408140071
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408140079
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,002,747 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gary F. Taylor HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
Noel Coward (1899-1973) is best recalled for his sparkling yet acid-etched comedies, and the 1933 DESIGN FOR LIVING is among the best, easily ranking alongside such titles as HAY FEVER, BLITHE SPIRIT, and PRIVATE LIVES. Specifically written to be performed by Coward and the celebrated husband-wife acting team Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, the play depicts the frequently bizarre, overly dramatic, and wickedly funny romantic tangles that arise between artist Otto, playwright Leo, and Gilda--the woman who loves them both.

Although a popular ticket on both the London and New York stage, at the time DESIGN FOR LIVING was widely condemned as both amoral and immoral--and even today a production is likely to raise eyebrows. Gilda has been inspiration for both Otto and Leo, but she wavered romantically, finally settling on Otto... until an evening on the town puts Leo in her bed. But this is merely the opening situation; as the play unfolds, the various relationships shift time and time again, implying emotional and physical relationships both expected and unexpected, and the play concludes on an ambiguous note, leaving us to wonder who has, who is, and who will be sleeping with who.

Although clever lines abound, DESIGN FOR LIVING is less noted for the sparkling Noel Coward wit that characterizes such plays as BLITHE SPIRIT than it is for the unexpected characters and situations it creates. This is truly an "actor's show" that places huge demands on the players' talents, and it makes for a truly fascinating read. Strongly recommended.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer

In memory of Cujo, 1992-2005

An Orange Cat and a Dear and Faithful Companion, Greatly Missed
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By Joe Hart on February 26, 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Unlike other LATW shows, this one is marked unabridged and does in fact run about 2 hours. The others I bought are 90 minutes or less. The actors' accents were kind of thinly English, so who knows (or cares?). I found this more substantial that most Coward plays and more interesting than funny. Though I think a better Gilda would have fixed this. I don't see why Otto or Leo would have wanted her for anything but an unobtrusive maid. She said one of my favorite Coward lines and didn't get a laugh, not even from me. The line was, "They say opera isn't what is used to be. Really it is, and that's what's wrong with it." (I'm a big opera buff, but love that remark. Coward BTW hated classical music.) Also incidentally, Coward lifted an Oscar Wilde line. "I remember your name, but not your face." I think this play (written by Coward expressly for himself and the Lunts to star in) is probably an actor's paradise to play. And the men (though clearly no Coward or Lunt) were effective, uninhibited and clearly having themselves a ball. Unfortunately, they weren't funny. I have 2 other versions of this play on hand (they arrived a couple days ago), one a movie, the other a radio version. Done by the BBC, I'm hoping for something better. Still I'm keeping this copy, and will admit that towards the end it got funnier.

Finally I would like to say 2 more things. Recently I read an article or something that said Leo, Otto and Gilda had a "platonic" relationship. They had nothing of the kind, and without going so far as Shostakovich in "Lady MacBeth", they are quite frank about it. (Hence the scandal and controversy.) And I've read lots of disclaimers made on Coward's behalf about the title not being meant to be taken seriously. It's my opinion that it's about as serious as anything Coward every said. But everyone knows what opinions are like, and everybody has one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Edward Scheetz on November 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not often revived, very controversial in its day - and would be today. Prescient take on the future (from that period) on unconventional relationships.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kelsey L on December 20, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm not a huge fan of Coward. I find his plays long-winded and often snooty. This one is no different and goes on a bit longer than needed, as short as it is. I wasn't invested in any of the characters, and for a play about sex, there's not many interesting things going on.
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