Tim Tubbs led his company UK Foundation for Dance in a double bill of the master’s work staged at the YMCA Theatre in Scarborough.
First up was Noel and Gertie – a look at the life and of the playwright and composer and his often leading lady Gertrude Lawrence. Tubbs – complete with tux and bow tie – played Coward to Kathryn Irwin’s Gertie.
The two appeared together in a series of Coward’s plays including Private Lives and Tonight at 8.30pm as well as pursuing their individual careers which found them the toast of the West End and Broadway.
Between the songs – including Somewhere I’ll Find You, I Travel Alone, Green Carnation and Parisian Pierrot – there were glimpses into the lives of the performers.
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Lawrence’s financial battles and the ups and downs of her career were charted alongside Coward's louche lifestyle and his stage and film successes.
The second half comprised a performance of Red Peppers – one of the plays that made up the programme of Tonight at 8.30pm – a cycle of 10 plays first performed by Noel and Gertie in the West End.
The series also included Still Life – which later became the basis of the film Brief Encounter also penned by Coward.
Red Pepper is about a couple performing an appalling song and dance double act in the dying days of musical hall.
Tubbs played George Pepper opposite Linda Polkowski’s Lily with Chris Curtis as the cynical orchestra leader, Kian Moore the call-by Chris Gray as the pompous theatre manager and Sue Wilding as ‘legitimate’ actress Mabel Grace.
The double bill was a wonderful slice of nostalgia, a hark back to times when martinis were poured from shakers into glasses instead of ordered by the jug full at all-day pubs.
It is companies like Tim’s keeping the work of Coward alive.
When’s the last time we saw Tonight at 8.30pm, Design or Loving or the Vortex in sky-high neon in the West End? Too long ago. Don’t even get me started on why radio stations ignore all Coward’s songs including the beautiful, melancholic love song I’ll See You Again. If only.