INTERLUDE FROM THE APPLECART - by Bernard Shaw
Record Company: - Poems by Noel Coward - Caedmon Literary Series TC 1094
Notes
Noel Coward And Margaret Leighton
Bernard Shaw's The Apple Cart Interlude and Poems by Noel Coward

When Noel Coward and Margaret Leighton starred in a London product: of The Apple Cart several seasons ago, new lustre was brought to a play containing some of the finest dialogue ever written by Bernard Shaw.. Written when the great playwright was 72, it was the fortieth of his fifty works for the stage. The first mounting of the play, thoroughly in keeping with Shaw's penchant for odd twists, was a Warsaw production in Polish. But on August 19, 1929, the English premiere was held at the Malvern Festival, with Cedric Hardwicke as King Magnus and Edith Evans as Orinthia.

Then came a great outcry of shock and dismay; for all of a sudden seemed to the Socialists who were in power, Shaw the Democrat had turned into Shaw the Monarchist. King Magnus was no figurehead, guided by Ministers, but a great and thoughtful ruler, far better equipped to govern than they. What on earth did he mean by that? Shaw kept his own court for a little, and then wrote one of his famous Prefaces, in which he explain - The Apple Cart exposes the unreality of both democracy and royalty as our idealists conceive them."
Then he came to the heart of his play, scoffing at the panic of his critics. " What was all this bother about? 1 had written a comedy in which a King defeats an attempt by his popularly elected Prime Minister to deprive deprive him of the right to influence public opinion through the press and the platform: in short, to reduce him to a cipher.... The comedic paradox of the situation is that the King wins, not by exercising his royal authority, but by threatening to resign it and go to the democratic poll."

So much for the theme of the play. But many critics also attacked the Interlude between Acts One and Two, which we are presenting here. It was they thought, a bit inconsequential to present the King, who had just come from a joust with his Ministers, in the boudoir of his mistress, talking of irrelevant matters. But this was, of course, an aspect of the playwright's craft which had eluded them. Shaw wanted to show his admirable King relaxed and sparring playfully, but absolutely in control of this relationship as well as of those more weighty. And the attentive listener will hear, in this Interlude, more wise and witty philosophy than he can expect during the whole course of any ordinary play.

The scene is set, in Shaw's own words, in " Orinthia's boudoir at half-past fifteen on the same day. She is at her writing table scribbling notes. She is romantically beautiful, and beautifully dressed. As the table is against the wall near a corner, With the other wall on her left, her back alone is visible from the middle of the room. The door is near the corner diagonally opposite. There is a large settee in the middle of the room."

The other characters mentioned during the scene are Jemima, the wife of Magnus, Lysistrata, the Powermistress (also the only competent official in the Cabinet), and Amanda, the Postmistress General.
Noel Coward's talents are numerous and well-known, but he here makes his debut as a writer of poetry having no relationship at all to song lyrics. These are personal evocations of himself and of the world of Noel Coward -candid, unexpectedly nostalgic, sophisticated and yet refreshingly free of fashionable cynicism. The poems were written in leisure hours at Mr. Coward home in Jamaica; and his sense of theatre makes them perfect monologues for the talented pair reading them: Noel Coward and Margaret Leighton, both performers of some repute.
JK Note:
See the Poems page for more details.
Tracks
The Apple Cart Interlude and the following poems:
1.The Boy Actor
2.Nothing Is Lost
3.Honeymoon
4.Mrs. Mallory
5.A Question of Values
6. Do I Believe?
7.Letter from the Seaside, 1880
8.1901
9.A Lady at a Party
10.Opera Notes.

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Copyright - The Noel Coward Society - May 2001