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Blithe Spirit, Hay Fever, Private Lives: Three Plays Paperback – International Edition, January 26, 1999
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-- from Private Lives
From the Back Cover
In Blithe Spirit, Charles Condomine receives a visit from his first wife, Elvira. Unfortunately, Charles is now married to Ruth, and Elvira is a ghost. The bohemian protagonists of Hay Fever wreak emotional havoc on a houseful of weekend visitors. In Private Lives, a recently divorced couple find themselves in adjoining hotel rooms while on honeymoon with their new -- and wholly unsuitable -- spouses. Giddy, elegant, and unflappably serene in their appreciation of human vice and folly, these plays are Coward at his finest.
Top Customer Reviews
Of the three, BLITHE SPIRIT and PRIVATE LIVES are best known to the general public through various film versions and frequent revivals. BLITHE SPIRIT concerns a novelist who invites a medium to give a seance that he might learn tricks of the trade for the book he is writing--but the medium is no fake, and she unintentionally summons up the ghost of his first wife, who promptly moves in and makes his second wife's life a living hell. PRIVATE LIVES offers the story of a divorced couple who unexpectedly meet while honeymooning with their new spouses--whom they quickly abandon in order to resume their torrid passion for each other. Trouble is, although they love each other desperately, their personalities are about as compatible as two scorpions in a bottle. HAY FEVER, one of Coward's earliest successes, presents the story of visitors to an eccentric family who are very nearly driven mad before they are able to escape.
Coward was reknowned for his sophistocated and often acid turn of phrase, and all three of these plays contain enough outrageous situations and sharp-tongued lines to make even the worst sourpuss laugh loud enough to annoy the neighbors. Although those unused to reading playscripts may find HAY FEVER a bit hard to grasp, both BLITHE SPIRIT and PRIVATE LIVES read extremely, extremely well--so much so that you're likely to find yourself acting them out as you read! Wonderful fun, and strongly, strongly recommended.
And speaking of acquired, Coward's that kind of taste, isn't he? Particularly 70-90 years after he wrote these confections? Well, it's a taste - for dry, bantering, cleverly corrosive wit - I acquired long ago, before Coward, and so I found Private Lives HOWLINGLY funny on the page and on the stage. I sat up late last Saturday to read this, and I feared I'd wake up the house with my whoops and guffaws. Coward cracks wise about every third line, and it's just so...so...so...black tie-wing collar-patent leather pumps-English. (I wanted to say Wildean, but that would be Irish, wouldn't it?) This is what Elizabethan comedy's superabundance of clever clever clever words words words evolves into in London's West End between the Wars. So demmed smart (as in "smart set" smart, not smart as "intelligent" - although it's that, too, in trumps). And so trippingly like what every bright Oxbridgean wants to sound like at the cocktail party.
Of course, the story is ridiculous. But with a neatly balanced three acts, which takes reader or theatergoer up a clever hill and down a similar, similarly bright, hill for a somewhat predictable conclusion, handsomely wrought, at a pace, even on the page, that's racehorse brisk.
In the theater, the play literally crackles, throws off sparks, shimmers like shook foil.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The collection is great, though I only read "Hay Fever" before watching it performed and I certainly got a laugh out of it.Published 8 months ago by Hayli May
Can't get into it. seems dusty. Blithe Spirit ( I found the best of the 3) was a better read for me because it's the most visual and the characters seem more clearly defined. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Alan R. Kaplan
i was about to go see blithe spirit with angela lansbury and figured i should read the play first; loved it of course since noel coward is awesome and i will read the other plays.Published 17 months ago by Valerie Provines
Typical Noel Coward. Wanted to read Private Lives as I had performed on stage in Blithe Spirit and loved it. Private Lives was quite different.Published 21 months ago by Peggy A Weisgerber
Noel Coward is brilliant and brittle and fun. If you are an Anglophile, as I am, you will enjoy this book.Published on May 8, 2014 by D. Boggs
Three great plays for a fantastic deal of a price, brand new. The plays are so funny. Totally worth it!Published on January 18, 2014 by Ela
Just an addition to my growing library of scripts to use in auditioning for local theater productions. Love little theater.Published on June 22, 2013 by Francene Thompson