This Was A Man

by Noёl Coward

15 July – 2 August 2014

“I loathe this age and everything to do with it. Men of my sort are the products of over-civilisation. All the red- blooded honest-to-God emotions have been squeezed out of us”

The UK premiere

★★★★ Four stars, Everything Theatre
★★★★ Four stars, West End Frame
★★★★ Four stars, The Good Review

Four Off West End Awards Nominations
Best Female Performance – Dorothea Myer-Bennett as Carol
Best Costume Designer – Simon Kenny (and his associate costume designer Jessica Knight)
Best Male Performance – Robert Portal as Evelyn
Best Director – Belinda Lang

This Was A Man is now completely sold out for the entire run including the extra matinee on Wednesday 30 July at 3.00pm.

Returns only. For details please click here

Banned by the Lord Chamberlain for its facetious and irreverent treatment of adultery, This Was A Man, a previously unseen play by Noël Coward, directed by actress Belinda Lang, opens for its long overdue UK professional premiere in a strictly limited three week season at the Finborough Theatre on Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Edward Churt is a successful painter. His wife Carol has a “vivid personality composed of a minimum of intellect and a maximum of sex”. Increasingly aware of her infidelity, Edward defends himself with a veneer of sophisticated insouciance. But his best friend and army comrade is determined to avenge him…

This Was A Man explores some of Coward’s lifelong and enduring themes of social mores, jealousy and the futility of a life with no moral compass. Can good manners emasculate us? What happens when we repress our inner caveman? Is it more courageous to look away or to face our demons and fight? What, indeed, does it mean to be a “man”? 
Written in 1925 and immediately banned by the censor, This Was A Man opened on Broadway in 1926, and was subsequently produced across Europe, but has never been seen professionally in the UK until now.

About The Playwright Noёl Coward

Sir Noёl Coward was born in 1899, and died in 1973. He was an actor, playwright, screenwriter, composer, lyricist, artist, novelist, short story writer, poet and cabaret artist. His many plays include The Vortex, Hay Fever, Easy Virtue, Bitter Sweet, Private Lives, Fallen Angels, Cavalcade, Design for Living, Tonight At 8.30, This Happy Breed, Present Laughter and Blithe Spirit. His screenplays include In Which We Serve and Brief Encounter. His songs include Mad Dogs and Englishmen.

About Director Belinda Lang

Director Belinda Lang has appeared in numerous plays by Noël Coward, including Hands Across The Sea, Private Lives (Theatre Royal Bath and National Tour), Blithe Spirit (Chichester Festival Theatre), Hay Fever (Theatre Royal Haymarket and Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester), A Song At Twilight (National Tour) and Present Laughter (Vaudeville Theatre), which she has also appeared in and directed on a National Tour. Her most recent production as a director was the National Tour of The Reluctant Debutante by William Douglas Home.

The Press on the Finborough Theatre's Past Coward Productions

The Finborough Theatre previously presented The Rat Trap in 2006, Noёl Coward’s first ever play in its first production for 80 years, directed by Tim Luscombe.

Time Out Critics' Choice

Four Stars Time Out, Sunday Telegraph

“Heroic effort by a young Coward...Written in 1918, when he was only 18 and not revived since a brief London run in 1926, Noel Coward's The Rat Trap is an absolute revelation.” Nicholas de Jongh, Evening Standard

“A most rewarding evening” Jeremy Kingston, The Times

“This may be Coward juvenilia, but for sheer energy, engrossing performances and entertainment value the production knocks spots off almost every other straight play in London at the moment, and is sure to lead to further revivals or, better still, a transfer.” John Thaxter, British Theatre Guide

The Press on This Was A Man

★★★★ Four stars, Everything Theatre
★★★★ Four stars, West End Frame
★★★★ Four stars, The Good Review

Four Off West End Awards Nominations
Best Female Performance – Dorothea Myer-Bennett as Carol
Best Costume Designer – Simon Kenny (and his associate costume designer Jessica Knight)
Best Male Performance – Robert Portal as Evelyn
Best Director – Belinda Lang

“I went from, ‘What fun’ to ‘Gosh, this is really exciting’.” Louise Jury, Evening Standard

“Considerable insight and humanity.” Stewart Pringle, Time Out

“This fizzy three-acter, banned by the Lord Chamberlain in 1926.” Matt Trueman, The Telegraph

This Was A Man is a captivating piece of theatre which grows, untangles and sparks debate.” Andrew Tomlins, West End Frame

“Like most of Coward's work the play is only pretending to be immoral and has a profoundly moral and sentimental core.” Gerald Berkowitz, Theatre Guide London

“We have a play of intense emotion and incisive skirmish with Coward's magnificently controlled dialogue: the clipped tones of British stiff upper lip delivery where everything happens just beneath the surface.” Lizzie Loveridge, CurtainUp

“Noël Coward explores the nature of marriage, friendship and what it means to be a man in his play.” Carolin Kopplin, UK Theatre Network

“Coward's play of recklessness, love and adultery was written in 1925 but was immediately banned by the censor.” Andrew Tomlins, West End Frame

“The play boils up to a nice dramatic finale.” Philip Fisher, British Theatre Guide

“It has an emotional depth, a study of divorce convention and hypocrisy and deserves to be produced.” Lizzie Loveridge, CurtainUp

“See a previously unknown work that prefigures so much that was to follow from The Master.” Philip Fisher, British Theatre Guide

“Noël Coward's controversial play.” Andrew Tomlins, West End Frame

“The piece has wise things to say about the complex negotiations of marriage and sex which ring true today now that we all have license to experiment as the toffs once did.” Alison Goldie, WhatsOnStage

“This is a fun play with a serious connotation.” Andrew Rowe, Everything Theatre

This Was A Man is a fascinating character driven piece of theatre which still has relevance today.” Andrew Tomlins, West End Frame

“Even as they down the cocktails, there is a sense in which they are all desperate to extricate themselves from the non-stop party as it becomes ever harder to keep their smiles screwed on tightly and their blasted hearts hidden from view.” Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

“The play has comical moments, but This Was A Man is certainly darker than Coward's other work.” Andrew Tomlins, West End Frame

“But there is a great deal to like in a play that keeps you wanting to know, which flashes its heart, is non-judgmental, and craftily plays both characters and audience with many layers of ambiguity.” Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

“An intriguing, funny and captivating story, hooking the audience straight away and not letting go.” Rebecca Robinson, The Good Review

“It's taken 88 years to reach the stage but the wait was worth it.” Liz Verco, Fulham Sw6 / Hammersmith Today

“Banned by the Lord Chamberlain for its facetious and irreverent treatment of adultery.” Atomies

“It’s a rarity for those interested in 20th century British theatre in general and Noel Coward in particular.” Gareth James, Gareth’s Culture And Travel Blog

“This is undoubtedly an intriguing curio.” Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard

This Was A Man explores some of Coward’s lifelong and enduring themes of social mores, jealousy and the futility of a life with no moral compass.” Atomies

“It’s an intricate beat-by-beat analysis of a forbidden affair.” Lloyd Evans, The Spectator

“Why on earth has it taken 88 years? That a really rather fine play by Noël Coward has had to wait until now for its professional UK premiere seems astounding. However, this certainly isn’t the first time that the tiny Finborough, on the London Fringe, has brought a forgotten gem to light.” Kate Bassett, The Times

“One of those grownup plays that no one seems capable of writing nowadays, even though there is no Lord Chamberlain looking over our shoulder, tut-tutting.” Atomies

“Everyone’s hurt is gradually uncovered without opening their hearts.” Blanche Marvin, London Theatreviews

“This Was a Man was in fact officially suppressed in 1926. Coward’s depiction of proliferating adultery and divorces in upper-crust Kensington was banned by the Lord Chamberlain.” Kate Bassett, The Times

“Coward is careful to keep everything ambiguous, to keep the hooks barbed and let no-one off them.” Stewart Pringle, Time Out

“It is obvious that Coward is writing about his real life acquaintances combining social observation with the wit of the clever, cocktail quaffing classes.” Lizzie Loveridge, CurtainUp

“There’s substance and an intellectual honesty here that’s too often missing from Coward’s later plays.” Stewart Pringle, Time Out

15 July – 2 August 2014

Tickets and Times

Tuesday 7:30pm
Wednesday 7:30pm
Thursday 7:30pm
Friday 7:30pm
Saturday 3:00pm (from 26 July 2014)
7:30pm
Sunday 3:00pm

Two hours including one interval of fifteen minutes