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Noel Coward Murder Mysteries by Marcy Kahan – #1

11/07/2020

Malcolm Sinclair stars as Noel Coward; Eleanor Bron as Lorn Loraine his devoted secretary; with Tam Williams as Cole Lesley as his valet, in Marcy Kahan’s quintet of biographical comedies for radio.

Design for Murder
Actor, playwright, songwriter, director and star-Noel Coward never quite added sleuth to his astonishing achievements. But just before the war with Hitler, there is a gap in his memoirs. Is there a murder mystery within those days? Piano Neil Brand Director: Ned Chaillet Winifred: Kristin Milward Edward/Judith: Nicholas Boulton Greta: Gemma Saunders Tony: Joe Dunlop Hoskins: Don McCorkindale

This tongue-in-cheek murder mystery, set in and around the Globe Theatre (now the Novello Theatre) centred around Coward’s (Malcolm Sinclair’s) efforts to write a new play and persuade Gertrude Lawrence to star in it. Aided and abetted by his devoted companions Lorne Lorraine (Eleanor Bron) and Cole Lesley (Tam Williams), he finally manages to do so; but not without a lot of fuss and bother, chiefly involving a young would-be writer Tony (Joe Dunlop), who eventually turns out to be a psychopath, holding Coward at gun-point in the theatre before committing suicide. The action unolds light-heartedly, with Coward exchanging banter with his two companions; in particular the long-suffering Lorraine has a hard job trying to persuade ‘The Master’ to keep his attention on writing the play and not become involved in extraneous affairs. However Coward cannot do this: love renders him oblivious to Tony’s disturbed nature. Although ‘The Master’ energed unscathed in the end, we get the sense that he is actually a very isolated person, unable to admit to his sexuality in public at a time when homosexuality was illegal. He has his companions’ support, but no actual love. As Coward, Malcolm Sinclair gives a convincing performance as someone with a ready wit and a wonderful turn of phrase; but perhaps these virtues compensate for an overriding sense of loneliness. First broadcast in 2001, this drama was directed by Ned Chaillet.

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