design for living, old vic

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What one notices first about the play is its perfect symmetry. Rating: * *. This evening has the highest production values, strong acting and much good humour. Confusion is manifest, as his muse (or should that be mistress?) As such, Design for Living deserves to fill the mighty Old Vic for the duration of the run, which lasts until the end of November. There is almost no sense of the lust, jealousy and hurt that seethes beneath the banter of the egocentric central characters. Far better than the principals are Angus Wright as Gilda’s devoted but disapproving future husband, who brings real hurt and anger to the stage, and Maggie McCarthy as a delightfully comic charlady. Sixteen years ago Sean Matthias directed a revival of Design for Living at the Donmar Warehouse that brought out all the passion and wild amorality implicit in Coward’s bisexual comedy in which the three central characters, Otto a painter, Leo, a playwright, and Gilda, an interior designer, are irresistibly drawn to each other and eventually form a ménage-a-trois.

It is perfectly possible to see the play as Coward's vindication of the privileged amorality of the artist and an attack on bourgeois stuffiness. The real revelation lies in Angus Wright's portrait of Ernest. And, although with two intervals and a running time over three hours the evening could do with some trimming, it is elegantly designed by Lez Brotherston and nicely lit by David Hersey. Tom Burke plays Otto as a hearty hooray who seems bland even when supposedly in the coils of sexual jealousy while Andrew Scott’s Leo comes on like a squeaky-voiced, petulantly camp schoolboy. In short, this is a production that unearths Coward's moral ambivalence.

ave £10 when they buy top price tickets for performances until 25 September. Otherwise this revival proves more of a punishing endurance test than a pleasure.

As Gilda, Lisa Dillon, an actress I have often admired, seems less like a femme fatale than a neurotic housewife who has run out of Prozac, entirely missing the dangerous allure that Rachel Weisz and Janie Dee have brought to the role. Normally he is played as the stuffed shirt and the spokesman for the moral majority. Sixteen years ago Sean Matthias directed a revival of Design for Living at the Donmar Warehouse that brought out all the passion and wild amorality implicit in … Shop for Vinyl, CDs and more from Design For Living at the Discogs Marketplace. It starts in a Paris studio and clearly lays out the main lines of engagement: Gilda, an interior decorator, is living with the artist Otto, but is equally drawn to the playwright Leo. Noel Coward’s plays need to be fleet of foot and played with an elegant lightness of touch. However, there are differences, including Maggie McCarthy scene stealing as judgemental maid Miss Hodge. All is revealed with the return of a devastated Otto but life can never be quite the same. Words tumble out of his mouth in torrents when his will is thwarted. Andrew Scott plays Leo, hilariously, as an overgrown child given to tantrums. I once suggested that Coward was a puritan dandy with a Martini in one hand and a moral sampler in the other; and this shrewd and lively production suggest there may be more than a grain of truth in that remark. Limited company registration no.

1072590. But then they aren’t much cop either.

Miss Dillon is really at her best when unsuccessfully using brittle subterfuge to hide her numerous guilty secrets before eventually "coming out" in the play's final scene. What’s disastrously absent here is the required spark of sexuality. After the first interval, we move to the lavish, art deco London flat of Leo. To find out more, go to theguardian.com/extra, Self-discovery: Angus Wright as Ernest, Tom Burke as Otto, Lisa Dillon as Gilda and Andrew Scott as Leo Photograph: Tristram Kenton. 3667822.

I’ve seen productions of Ibsen that offered more laughs. But Anthony Page's infinitely subtler, and funnier, revival reminds us that Coward's cosmopolitan hedonism was always matched by an inbuilt puritanism, and that the play offers a genuine contest between the bohemian talentocracy and moral orthodoxy. Old Vic, London Michael Billington. For a start, Lisa Dillon's Gilda is no mere femme fatale, but a wild, restless and unhappy woman who feels marginalised both by her lack of material success and by being the sexual outsider in a world of male attachment. @billicritic Wed 15 Sep 2010 19.48 EDT First published on Wed 15 Sep 2010 19.48 EDT.

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