The Young Idea

The Questors Academy Student Group performed this early Noël Coward play in Ealing’s Questors Theatre. The Young Idea, first performed in 1923, brought the 21-year-old Coward his first real success as a playwright, and contains seeds of what would later develop into Private Lives, with a long-separated husband and wife who still harbour feelings for one another. This early play, however, concentrates on the couple’s two children, Gerda and Sholto, who at the ages of eighteen and twenty-one have travelled to England from Italy, where they live with their mother, and reacquaint themselves with their father, harbouring a plan to get their parents back together. The pair dislike the stuffy upper-class milieu their father inhabits, and come into conflict with his second wife, who is herself carrying on an affair. The conflict between bohemianism and the bourgeois anticipates Hay Fever, and provides for some sparkling comedy.

The cast did a brilliant job, with several really superb performances; a couple of actors did speak a little too fast, but that is a minor criticism. The verbal sparring was perfectly paced and the wonderfully Cowardian witticisms delivered with flair. I thoroughly enjoyed this production, which shows Coward’s talent and potential even as a very young man; it would remain one of his own favourites.

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