Written as a vehicle for Coward's own acting talents alongside his frequent stage partner Gertrude Lawrence, Tonight at 8:30 is Coward's ambitious series of ten one-act plays which saw him breathe new life into the one-act form. From vaudeville to satire, from farce to intricate comedy of manners, from melodrama to romance, these plays span the full, glorious range of Coward's writing. Peep through your fingers at the chaotic Red Peppers music-hall show, witness a bankrupt couple use all Ways and Means to scheme their way out of debt, and break your heart along with Laura in the famous Still Life, the original version of the film Brief Encounter. First performed in London in 1936, the plays perfectly showcase Coward's talents as a playwright, providing a sparkling, fast-paced and remarkably varied selection of theatrical gems. Coward wrote of the first series of three plays with characteristic delight: `They are all brilliantly written, exquisitely directed, and I am bewitching in all of them.' Gertrude Lawrence wrote to Coward in 1947, `Dearest Noel, wherever I go . . . all I hear is please revive Tonight at 8.30! ' All ten plays are collected together into this volume that features both Coward's own preface and an introduction by Barry Day, Coward expert and editor of The Letters of Noel Coward. This new edition of Tonight at 8.30 is published to coincide with English Touring Theatre and the Nuffield Southampton's revival for the first time in the UK since Coward starred in them in 1936.
Noel Coward was born in 1899 in Teddington, Middlesex. He made his name as a playwright with The Vortex (1924), in which he also appeared. His numerous other successful plays included Fallen Angels (1925), Hay Fever (1925), Private Lives (1933), Design for Living (1933) and Blithe Spirit (1941). During the war he wrote screenplays such as Brief Encounter (1944) and In Which We Serve (1942). In the fifties he began a new career as a cabaret entertainer. He published volumes of verse and a novel (Pomp and Circumstance, 1960), two volumes of autobiography and four volumes of short stories: To Step Aside (1939), Star Quality (1951), Pretty Polly Barlow (1964) and Bon Voyage (1967). He was knighted in 1970 and died three years later in Jamaica.