The Vortex

Previewed 20 February 2008, Opened 26 February 2008, Closed 7 June 2008 at the Apollo Theatre in London

A major revival of Noel Coward's play The Vortex in London starring Felicity Kendal, Dan Stevens and Phoebe Nicholls and directed by Sir Peter Hall

Felicity Kendal leads the cast as the glamorous socialite 'Florence Lancaster'. Amidst a backdrop of glittering decadence The Vortex centres on the tempestuous relationship of Florence and her hedonistic son Nicky. With the mother's desire for younger men driven by her refusal to grow old, and the son's obsession with competing for her love, Florence Lancaster's insatiable needs are fundamentally the crux of the 'Vortex of beastliness' that drives Nicky to his demons. Noel Coward's renowned play The Vortex depicts the frivolous nature and narcissism of London's late 1920's aristocracy, which made his name and sealed his reputation as one of the greats.

The cast for this production of The Vortex in London features Felicity Kendal as 'Florence Lancaster' along with Dan Stevens as 'Nicky Lancaster' and Phoebe Nicholls as 'Helen Saville' along with Barry Stanton as 'Pauncefort Quentin', Annette Badland as 'Clara Hibbert', Paul Ridley as 'David Lancaster', Daniel Pirrie as 'Tom Veryan' and Cressida Trew as 'Bunty Mainwaring', with Timothy Speyer as 'Bruce Fairlight' and Vivien Keene as 'Preston'. Casting subject to change. The production is directed by Sir Peter Hall and features designs by Alison Chitty, lighting by Paul Pyant, sound by Gregory Clarke, music composed by Mick Sands and movement by Laila Diallo. Peter Hall's credits include Lenny about Lenny Bruce starring Eddie Izzard (Queen's Theatre 1999).

"A Noel Coward revival in the West End comes with certain expectations: cocktails and laughter and all that comes after, staged on achingly chic and glossy sets of chrome and glass on which Coward's elegant and decadent creatures can glide. However, while Felicity Kendal couldn't look more glamorous in a series of divine dresses in The Vortex, the usually inspired Alison Chittys design couldnt be less so. Lumpsof ugly furniture in a draughty room with bottle-green walls are not easy toglide around or pose upon. Consequently, Peter Halls production is up against it from the start. Kendal, fortunately, is more than up for it as the legendarily lovely Florence Lancaster. The middle-aged wife of detached David and mother of would-be professional pianist Nicky, she nevertheless clings to the notion of herself as a sex-bomb. Florence has what she calls a temperament, by which she means an indefatigable libido matched by an insatiable appetite for flattery. As long as her son is not around to remind her how old she is, she can be as girlish, giddy and gushing as only Felicity Kendal can be. Until, that is, she discovers her latest toyboy, handsome Guards officer Tom, in a clinch with Nicky's fiancee. She is devastated. Nicky is also an addict, but its cocaine he's hooked on rather than sex and he craves the mothering hes been denied. When he realises that his mother has, instead, been lavishing her attention on the hunky Guardsman, Hamlet-like, Nicky begs her to give up her lovers andconcentrate on him. As Nickys accusations hit home, Kendal's tears wash away the carefully applied mask of youth and reveal her as a middle-aged woman who must embrace her son and her own mortality for the first time. Its a brave, bravura performance, more potent, convincing and moving than anything that Felicity Kendal has been allowed to do for a long time. The rest of the cast is decidedly patchy." The Mail on Sunday

"Peter Hall's new production of Noel Coward's once shocking 1924 play The Vortex succeeds wonderfully in bringing out the hidden depths beneath the sparkling shallows... If hardly shocking any more, there remains something slightly icky and unsettling about it... Alison Chitty's sets are excellent... Mick Sands's music is striking, too." The Sunday Times

"What Peter Hall's production reminds us is that The Vortex was always much more than a succes de scandale. Coward, the most urbane of customers, is also, lest we forget, a writer of emotional substance... But this production was always going to be about Kendal, and she doesn't disappoint... She is blessed in a supporting cast who keep pace with her every twist and turn... Between them, Coward, Kendal and Hall have done each other proud." The Sunday Telegraph

The Vortex in London at the Apollo Theatre previewed from 20 February 2008, opened on 26 February 2008 and closed on 7 June 2008