The Vortex


Noel Coward

Cast & Crew

Cat Martin,
Julian Kennard,
Mitchell McDermot,
Isla Borrell,
Lyndall Iron,
David Kirkham,
Bianca Howard,
John Benjamin.

Hecate - Design

Roz Riley - Director

Review of The Vortex by Wendy Lewis, playwright and author (Statues of David, The Baggage Handler)
I've been trying to come up with some constructive critism of the play. It's hard...I think the problem is I liked it! And possibly the things I've been thinking about are issues with the writing itself not the production. It was a good production, witty, entertaining, fab dresses (Marisa Newnes) It really captured the gaiety of the era and although there was much standing around talking it didn't feel static at all. Here are some thoughts:
The final scene. It did shift the whole tone of the evening. My interpretation is that the mother and son are the vortex around which everyone else revolves. And so the opening scene with the stage crowded with characters contrasts nicely with the final scene bare of all except those two. And those two promise each other that they will change, or try and change, but I get the feeling they're going to stay exactly the same.. There was a hint of sexual charge. Maybe there could have been more to make it even more alarming.
A general impression: the overall tone of the play seemed "nice" which I found interesting. It obviously reflects the "oh so polite" attitudes of the time. But it's funny that with a drug-addled son on the loose and a manipulative flirtatious mother, there was no real nastiness. And really the only big unleashing of emotions was when Nicky went on the rampage. A bit more rawness and violence would have been nice but I guess that's just not Mr Coward's cup of tea. I guess he prefers to show the darker side of human nature in a very controlled form. Not sure.
The Bunty/Nicky relationship was well done. Both of them handled the roles quite beautifully. Their relationship seemed to represent the kind of vacuousness of the era; the spoilt rich young things who didn't seem at all perturbed by the state of their engagement. Since Nicky was so central to the play, the question is: what did Nicky's drug addiction do? Did Mr C just throw it in to be shocking. I suppose we were left to think that it would get worse and his rages would become even more aggressive. Or perhaps we are left to think life will drift on for these jolly ol' chaps just the same as ever, no one will get hurt, no one will challenge anything, no one will change. How cowardly.
The Vortex - photographed by John Reeves