Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - LIFESTYLE -

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.

Pic­ture: Linda Hewell

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.

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