This Happy Breed

Definition

Theater

  • A patriotic play by Noël Coward, sentimentallyextolling the values of the British middle class, from which he himselfhad sprung. "You must never, never forget your roots,"he once told a producer. The work was originally scheduled to openwith Present Laughter in 1939 but the plays were postponedwhen Coward, who intended to star in both, took an intelligence jobon the outbreak of World War II. The two plays were finally givena brief run at the Haymarket in 1943, after which they toured theprovinces with the original cast of Coward, Joyce Carey, Judy Campbell,and Dennis Price.

    The plot provides an episodic history of a lower middle-classfamily in the London suburb of Clapham from 1919 to 1939. Frank andEthel Gibbons share a house with Frank's unmarried sister Sylvia,Ethel's mother, and their children Reg, Queenie, and Vi. The playdeals mainly with the love affairs and marriages of the three children,and ends with Frank and Ethel moving into a flat with Queenie's illegitimateson.

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