This little-known Noël Coward play was banned by the Lord Chamberlain in 1926, seemingly because of its cavalier treatment of marriage, and the way in which the chief characters betray their spouses with considerable regularity. Belinda Lang’s production at the Finborough Theatre is the play’s first professional production in the UK.
More subdued than the Coward I know and love, This Was A Man is a worthwhile production that showcases the playwright’s understanding of the human heart. Coward’s depth is often overlooked in view of his comic writings, but as this play proves, he can do serious too.
The play centres around a married couple, Edward and Carol, and Edward’s friend Evelyn, who proposes a “honey trap” to confirm once and for all whether Carol is betraying Edward. However, things don’t go to plan as Evelyn ends up falling for Carol himself. Robert Portal is superb as the controlled military man Evelyn who gives in to his feelings, while Dorothea Myer-Bennett is excellent as Carol, an adulteress who is nevertheless rounded and sympathetic. Jamie De Courcey is equally good as Edward, the suspicious married man who has his faith in not only his wife, but his friend, broken. If you like Coward, this is a must-see.