Semi-Monde

Play by Noel Coward. The cocktail bar of the Ritz Hotel, Paris, in the years between the two World Wars. The well-heeled guests slip, with practised sophistication from one relationship to another, seemingly oblivious to the world outside. Written as 'The Ritz Bar' in 1926, due to both the subject matter, and the very large cast, it was only given a fully staged production in the West End in 2001.

West End Charity Performance 1987

Original West End London Production 2001

Noel Coward's other London theatre plays include Private Lives; Star Quality; Blithe Spirit; The Vortex; Relative Values; A Song At Twilight; Hay Fever; Brief Encounter; Design for Living; Volcano; Fallen Angels; and Present Laughter.


West End Charity Performance 1987

Sunday 13 September 1987 at the Royalty Theatre (now Peacock Theatre)

An all-star charity performance of Noel Coward's Semi-Monde in London for one-night only

Presented in aid of the 'Combined Theatrical Charities'.

The cast included Jane Asher, Peter Baylis, Alan Bennion, Lionel Blair, Caroline Blakiston, Peter Blythe, Kenneth Branagh, Simon Cadell, Judy Campbell, Joyce Carey, Constance Cummings, Judi Dench, Maurice Denham, Peter Durkin, Jeffrey Hardy, Patricia Hodge, Lisa Hollander, Bob Holness, Robert Howie, Geoffrey Hughes, Barry Humphries, Harold Innocent, Michael Irwin, Tom Kelly, Phyllida Law, Evelyn Laye, Jennie Linden, Delia Lindsay, Patrick Ludlow, Joanna Lumley, Christopher Luscombe, Pamela Miles, Kevin Moore, Jonathon Morris, Pat O'Toole, Ian Ogilvy, Tamsin Olivier, Muriel Pavlow, David Perry, Tim Pigott Smith, Neil Roberts, Zoe Rutland, Jeremy Sinden, Ronnie Stevens, Benedict Taylor, Matthew Taylor, Sophie Thompson, Frank Thornton, Martin Tickner, Gwen Watford, Elisabeth Welch, June Whitfield, Paula Wilcox, Finty Williams, Michael Williams, Aubrey Woods, and Ken Wynne.

Directed by Tim Luscombe, with designs by Carl Toms.


Original West End London Production 2001

Previewed 8 March 2001, Opened 21 March 2001, Closed 9 June 2001 at the Lyric Theatre

The West End Fully-Staged Premiere of Noel Coward's Semi-Monde in London

The cast featured Nichola McAuliffe as 'Dorothy Price', John Carlisle as 'Jerome Kennedy', Georgina Hale as 'Suzanne Fellini', Paul Albertson as 'Luke Fellows', Benedick Bates as 'Cyril Hardacre', Imogen Claire as 'Marion Fawcett', Patti Clare as 'Phyllis Hancox', Beth Cordingly as 'Norma Kennedy', Freya Dominic as 'Cynthia Gable', Simon Dutton as 'Owen Marshall', Niall Faber as 'Gaston', David Foxxe as 'Mike Craven', Stefan Bednarczyk as 'Julius Levenovitch', Peter Hampson as 'Edgar Darrell', Andrea Hart as 'Elise Trent', Carsten Hayes as 'Freddy Palmer', Brendan Hooper as 'Harry Leftwich', Andrew Joseph as 'Pierre', Camilla Power as 'Beryl Fletcher', Ian Price as 'Beverley Ford', Lucy Russell as 'Young Girl', Stephen Scott as 'Marcel', Ellen Sheean as 'Mrs Fletcher-Hancox', Frances Tomelty as 'Inez Zulieta', Sophie Ward as 'Tanis Marshall', Derwent Watson as 'Albert Hennick', Dom Wilson as 'Young Man', and Tristram Wymark as 'George Hudd'.

Directed and designed by Philip Prowse, with lighting by Gerry Jenkinson.

Farley Granger was originally scheduled to play the role of 'Julius Levenovitch', but he withdrew from the production before opening night, with Stefan Bednarczyk stepping in to take over the role.

Philip Prowse directed and designed the World Professional Premiere of this play at the Citizen's Theatre in Glasgow in September 1977.

Nichola McAuliffe's London theatre credits include 'Mrs Allonby' in Philip Prowse's revival of Oscar Wilde's A Woman of No Importance at the Barbican Theatre in 1991; 'Lilli Vanessi'/'Katherine' in Adrian Noble's revival of Cole Porter's Kiss Me Kate at the Old Vic Theatre in 1987, and transfer to the Savoy Theatre in 1988; and 'Queen Victoria' in Terry Hands and Ian Judge's production of the Peter Nichols and Monty Norman play with songs Poppy at the Aldephi Theatre in 1983.

John Carlisle's London theatre credit include 'Dr Rank' in Anthony Page's revival of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House at the Playhouse Theatre in 1996; 'Lord Illingworth' in Philip Prowse's revival of Oscar Wilde's A Woman of No Importance at the Barbican Theatre in 1991, and transfer to the West End's Haymarket Theatre in 1992.; 'Comte de Guiche' in Terry Hands' revival of Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac at the Barbican Theatre in 1983; and 'Ulysses' in Terry Hands' revival of William Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida at the Aldwych Theatre in 1981.

Georgina Hale's London theatre credits include 'Gwen' in Harold Pinter's production of Simon Gray's Life Support at the Aldwych Theatre in 1997; and 'Josie' in the original cast of Roger Smith's production of Nell Dunn's Steaming at the Theatre Royal Stratford, and transfer to the West End's Comedy Theatre in 1981.

"Philip Prowse finds the music in Coward's attenuated writing like no other director. And he designs the best sets and frocks, full stop. He mobilises the dialogue like a ballet master. You will therefore be rushing to see this brilliantly cast and costumed production of a play that is full of Coward's most explicit depictions of same-sex chat-ups and put-downs. Prowse's genius is to understand that Coward's staccato lines are a mask to disguise either a contrary meaning or a more painul one... It is an amazing, magical evening in three short acts, and quite the most exquisite and daringly unexpected venture on Shaftesbury Avenue in many moons." The Daily Mail

"Noel Coward's endless parade of pleasure seekers in Paris between the wars finally makes it to the West End and proves a rare treat. Semi-Monde was considered too naughty to stage when Coward wrote it in 1926, but no one will bat an eyelid today... Sophie Ward plays a newlywed and Nichola McAuliffe vamps it up in pearls and black stockings and breathes new life into the song Mad About The Boy. You'll be mad about the girl and the show. It's simply divine, dahling." The Daily Mirror

"Unfortunately, it is one of the most boring, uninviting plays ever endured... For this, only his second play, Coward creates dreary sexual pairings - gay, straight, lesbian, adulterous - which evolve and rotate through a series of half-page cocktail bar dialogues. Going to great lengths to impress that they are 'occasionally pained but never shocked', the cast of 30 merely say melodramatic things in order to create bald set-ups for mockery. They only show true despair when their dates are late... Maybe the fault lies in Prowse's production, which forces every character to stare languidly into the middle distance and utter the lines in an identically coy deadpan. All very period, all very camp. But pointless." The Independent

Semi-Monde in London at the Lyric Theatre previewed from 8 March 2001, opened on 21 March 2001, and closed on 9 June 2001