I simply adore Noel Coward. His characters might be mistaken as false, but are actually wonderfully controlled and intelligent until, as is the case here, they are caught up in a quite awful ‘vortex of beastliness’ that conspires to reveal them as all too human (in the sense that to be human is to have faults). And while I’m no Will Young fan, I suspected he’d be splendid here and splendid he is.
That Will Young gets bums on seats is beyond doubt. He’s so the housewives’ favourite and the audience is full of excited 50-somethings who wave excitedly across the theatre as they take their seats. Despite its size, being in the round The Royal Exchange remains an intimate space, so when Will sticks his bum into the audience, the ladies struggle not to reach out for a grope. All of which cannot be more fitting, given that the drama of the play rests on the inability of Nicky’s celebrity mother, Florence, to cope with her age. She too lusts after men twenty or thirty years her junior. But Florence acts on her impulse, while these ladies pick out Will because his unavailability (for all sorts of reasons) renders the fantasy so safe. And full credit to Will Young for tackling a piece of substance, when he could so easily have landed a part in some nonsense West End musical like Chicago.
Of course Florence’s lover could never keep her young. His inevitable betrayal reveals how fame, fortune and the pressure to remain perfect to her fans have damaged her and all around her. Go see the Vortex.