The Vortex

Definition

Theater

  • The controversial play that established the reputation of the24-year-old Noël Coward, who wrote, directed, and starredin it. The Vortex was first performed in 1924 at the EverymanTheatre in Hampstead, London. Coward later claimed that its succèsde scandale had caused him a nervous breakdown. He was succeededin the lead role by John Gielgud. Audiences were shocked by the play'streatment of adultery, drug addiction, and (indirectly) homosexuality;one critic referred to it as "this dustbin of a play".see also Lord Chamberlain.

    The plot involves Florence Lancaster (originally played byLilian Braithwaite), a society hostess, whose despair at her fadingbeauty leads her into an affair with the young Tom Veryan. When heradult son Nicky returns from France with his fiancée, BuntyMainwaring, they throw a party in their country house. After Nickyand Bunty break off their engagement, Florence finds Tom and Buntykissing; Florence's tantrum provides Nicky with the opportunity toconfront his mother about her adultery and confess his drug addiction.She breaks down, promising to be a better mother.

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