Three Plays

ISBN: 0394175352
ISBN 13: 9780394175355
By: Noël Coward

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Reader's Thoughts

Joey Gamble

Splendid! Coward's the master of the drawing-room.


While I don't think I can argue against Coward's clever dialogue and sharp wit, my ultimate enjoyment of these plays was diminished by what felt like an authorial mean-spiritedness or disgust with human nature. Was Coward a misanthrope? I don't know enough of his biography to discern the spirit in which his Blithe was intended. Maybe I just don't get him, or should have seen these performed rather than reading them...but as this collection was offered up as an alternative to (the superlative) Wodehouse, I'd choose stories of Jeeves and Wooster anyday.


Another collection so each play will be reviewed seperately.Blithe Spirit (*****): Very funny play showing off Cowards wit on every page with a great story and intriguing characters. The theme of love is dealt with very nicely and realistically as Charles has to deal with the ghost of his previous wife, Elvira, while living with his current wife Ruth and the differences in his marriages to them.Hay Fever(***): Personally this was the weakest play out of the three. The characters got a bit bland and the storyline slowly became predictable. However it still had some funny moments and would be interesting to see onstage.Private Lives (*****): This is Cowards most well known play and it's easy to see why, the characters of Amanda and Eliot are great together and with their new partners, Victor and Sybil respectively and the humour is well written. There are several poignant moments which contrast with some of the more dramatic/comedic scenes nicely


Ground Zero for witty plays that were written in the Twenties or early 30's. Very classic in its style, and biting dialogue. Coward overreached in many cases, yet one realizes that there is only one Noel Coward, and that, is not a bad place to be at all.


Three plays by Noel Coward: Blithe Spirit, Hay Fever [and] Private Lives. by Noel Coward (1965)

Alisha G

Not nearly as fun as seeing the plays live, but still a good time.


This is for Private Lives: A fun play. Very cute. Very English. Pretty funny. Wouldn't suggest reading it but perhaps go see it on the stage.


Love Coward's biting wit and dialogue - enjoyed all three plays.


All the plays were entertaining and easy reading. Interesting views of relationships given by Coward in his writing. I'm fascinated by the fact that in all three plays he either directed, staged or starred in the premiers. Makes me want to know more about him personally.


out of the three i've only read private lives so far plus i recently saw it at london's gielgud theatre and i giggled merrily for two straight hours. this is so very english and very satisfying.

Ben Dougherty

I think Noel Coward is a brilliant playwright and comedian, and these three are my favorites!


Blithe Spirit is Coward's best play and one of the all-time best comedies; Private Lives is a classic.I want to focus on Hay Fever, a perfect screwballerabout a confusion of guests at a houseparty. It isnteasy to write a play about Nothing, but Coward doesprecisely that w this hilarious souffle that risesto a tasty top.Amateurs may find it a joy to produce, Coward warned,but it's probably his most difficult to perform --it has no plot and little action. So it requires superbtechnique by every cast member. Hay Fever is a vehiclefor comic acting as Bohemian crackpotters - retiredactress Mum, romantic novelist Dado and their two impudentteen tots - are blithering hosts to unsuspecting weekenders.Blissful nonsense like another Coward, Fallen Angels.What dates in the theatre? Moral judgments, politicalopinions, and social messages. Coward does not date becoshe eyes the vanities and quirks and follies and pompositiesof people, and people, as Congreve & Sheridan have shown,are changeless.It may sound easy, and obvious, to effect, but after a fewhundred years only a few have found it possible to do. Asone critic said, it's not a difficult idiom to imitate, butjust try to pull it off.

Karen S

I really liked Blithe Spirit when I saw it as a play. Reading them 'by myself', the plays don't seem quite as funny. Veddy upper-class British, but sometimes I enjoy that. Would probably prefer to see any of the 3 produced more than I enjoyed reading them.

Snehal Bhagat

Within the performing arts, drama calls for the greatest suspension of disbelief, and given that audiences are willing to make the effort, it is interesting that the most successful plays seem to be those that require the least of it. Take a bunch of witty characters, stick them in a situation and allow them to indulge in repartee - a winning formula, and one that Coward employs to good effect in the three plays here, all of which have their moments and would make for pleasurable viewing in the theater.


First learned about the playwright on Economist. Also learned that he wrote Private Lives at the Peace Hotel in Shanghai. More spirited (and less refined or elegant) than Wilde's plays. Sometimes it reads like a romantic movie script. Might check out the movie version sometime.

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