Design for Living

Definition

Theater

  • A comedy by Noël Coward, first produced in 1933at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, New York, where it ran for a limitedseason of 135 performances. The play was written for the Lunts,who appeared with the author in the Broadway production.

    In Britain, the play's subject matter (a ménageà trois) caused some difficulties with the Lord Chamberlain.Coward, however, used his influence in Establishment circles to getthe play performed at the Haymarket in 1939. In London, the leadingmen included Rex Harrison and an Austrian refugee, AntonWalbrook, described by Harrison as "not, in my opinion, God'sgift to the comedy stage." The relationship between the twomen was not helped by the fact that Walbrook had been involved inan affair with the actress Coral Browne, who had previously rejectedHarrison's advances. Knowing Walbrook's preference for German classicalmusic, Harrison played jazz records each night in the adjacent dressingroom. Of Diana Wynyard in the part of Gilda, Coward moaned, "Gildaneeds to have a touch of the gipsy. She needs to be a bit common.Oh, if only Gertie [Gertrude Lawrence] was available."

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