A MESSY THREESOME
A NOËL Coward romantic comedy – initially banned in the UK – will take audiences on a wickedly witty journey from Paris to London and New York as part of the Old Mill Theatre’s latest offering.
Directed by Barry Park, Design For Living is a provocative play that portrays three amoral, glib and stylish characters and their hopelessly inescapable, if also unconventional, emotional entanglement.
From 1930s bohemian Paris to the dizzying heights of Manhattan society, a tempestuous love triangle unravels between vivacious interior designer Gilda, playwright Leo and artist Otto – three people unashamedly and passionately in love with each other.
“They are trapped in what one of the characters refers to as ‘a three-sided erotic hodgepodge’,” Park said.
“I’d describe it as a stylish and scandalous comedy, exploring themes of bisexuality, celebrity, success and self-obsession.”
The main task is portraying the three settings on stage.
“It’s going to be a challenge to fit the sets and furniture on the small Old Mill stage but I’ve worked out a crafty way to do it,” he said.
“There is a lot of rapid dialogue in the play and the cast is going to have to be really on the ball – particularly the leads, who are rarely off stage.
“It also offers some wonderful set and costuming opportunities, given the time period is the glamorous early 1930s.”
Acting and directing since the 1970s, Park has performed in a plethora of plays, musicals, pantomimes, minstrel shows, films, radio plays and television in Salisbury, Cape Town, Edinburgh, London and Perth.
Several plays Park has directed have won awards, including M. Butterfly, which picked up gongs for best director and best play at WA’s annual Finley Awards.
His productions of Broken Glass, The Real Thing and Cat On a Hot Tin Roof have also received several Finley Award nominations.
“Design For Living is extremely funny and witty but it has a dark side and was very risqué for its time,” Park said.
“Today’s audiences will still find its content amusing, yet somewhat confronting, and will appreciate the opportunity to see it because the play is rarely staged.”
The play is at 8pm on April 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, May 3, 4, 5 and 6 with 2pm matinees on April 23 and 30.
Tickets are $25, $20 concession. Book at http://oldmilltheatre.com.au/tickets or on 9367 8719.
Otto (Jeffrey Watkins, left), Gilda (Nyree Hughes) and Leo (Garry Davies) are trapped in a “three-sided erotic hodgepodge” in Noel Coward’s Design For Living.