Auditions & Casting
The Vortex by Noel Coward
Director: Michael Rolfe.
Playing Dates: 25th October – 4th November 2017 (Main House)
The Vortex was written by the 24 year old Noel Coward in 1924. Previously known as a writer of minor light comedies, here was a play where drug use, nymphomania and a son’s unhealthy passion for his mother sprang from the text.
The Vortex, for its time was a very strong play indeed and attracted the label ‘dustbin drama’ some 50 years before it was applied to John Osborne and Look Back in Anger. Osborne challenged social and class issues of his time which have now arguably, all but disappeared. Coward however, was looking at issues which remain with us today.
The ambition of this production is not in any way to subsume Coward’s depiction of the ‘fashionable depravity’ of these 1920’s socialites but to look at the central moral issues raised with a contemporary eye.
Act One is set in the Lancaster’s London Flat where various socialite friends of Florence flit back and forth and arrangements are made for the coming weekend to be spent at the Lancaster’s country house. Florence’s son Nicky arrives back from a year in Paris a day early. His mother is more interested in telling him about her lover, Tom, than she is in hearing about, or meeting, his fiancé Bunty. When Florence goes off to get ready for the theatre and Nicky goes off to speak to his father, they leave Tom and Bunty together, old friends from childhood who are delighted to be re-united.
Acts Two and Three are set in the Lancaster’s Country House – Act Two in the ‘Ballroom’ on the Sunday Evening after dinner and Act Three in Florence’s bedroom two hours later.
Act Two begins in a swirl of dancing, and ends, following rows between Florence and Nicky, Bunty and Tom, in a swirl of high emotions and a real change of partners for Florence and Bunty.
Act Three starts with Helen attempting to appease an hysterical Florence, who has lost Tom to a girl of his own age, and moves to a climactic scene between the ‘un-mothered’ and spiritually flaky Nicky and the self-deceiving Florence who must finally choose to recognise who she is.
- Preston: A Maid in the Lancaster’s London Flat. Young, smiley – ‘Wonderful poise’.
- Helen Saville: 30-ish. Smartly dressed. Loving nature. Fond of Florence, possibly also fancies her.
- Pauncefort ‘Pawnie’ Quentin: An elderly ‘maiden’ gentleman. (Think Sir Epicure Mammon in the Alchemist crossed with a Pantomime Dame).
- Clara Hibbert: Socialite and Diva. Highly strung and affected. Well dressed. Sings.
- Florence Lancaster: 50 or more – her age a well-kept secret but certainly old enough to know better than to try and keep old age at bay by cavorting promiscuously with young lovers and making no secret of it.
- Tom Veryan: 24. Athletic, good looking Guard’s Officer. ‘One feels he is good at games and extremely bad at everything else’. Florence’s lover until he switches affections to Bunty.
- Nicky Lancaster. 24. ‘Divinely selfish’, plays piano to good standard, ‘loves being attractive’. Bisexual/homosexual/uncertain? Coke fuelled. Spiritually flaky and ‘un-mothered’.
- David Lancaster: Elderly, grey-haired, pleasant man. Head of the family but ineffective. He declines to see what is happening right in front of him.
- Bunty Mainwaring: 23. Fiance to Nicky. ‘More attractive than pretty, in a boyish sort of way’. Swaps Nicky for her childhood friend, Tom, without a great deal of sentimentality or guilt.
- Bruce Fairlight: an ‘earnest’ dramatist and guest at the Lancaster’s country house.
‘The squalor of his plays are much appreciated by those who live in luxury’.
A fairly open structure. After a brief chat about the play from the Director, short excerpts from the text, mainly duologues, will be assigned and time given for familiarisation. Following individual chats, the actors will then present their readings in pairs, then they might get changed around a bit for different pairings – or not. We will see.
It’s always useful if you have a (short) prepared piece to perform as well.
Please feel free to email Michael Rolfe at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about the parts, the play or me.