Image by Simon Annand
DRUGS, sex and scandal.
Stephen Unwin’s theatrical revival of The Vortex, the play which made NoÃ«l Coward a superstar in 1924, will make you laugh whilst leaving you clinging to the edge of your seat through the hysterical madness.
The Vortex delves into the unconventional and intoxicating relationship of the decadent, drug- addicted Nicky Lancaster and his flamboyant, nymphomaniac socialite mother, Florence, played by New Zealand born Kerry Fox.
David Dawson steals the show in his role as drug dazed Nicky Lancaster. Perfectly combining cocaine-fuelled nervousness and manic intensity, Dawson delivers a meticulous and highly energetic performance.
Kerry Fox gives a wonderful performance as Nicky’s mother Florence. Swanning around on stage in divine flowing robes and exquisite dresses, Fox thoroughly explores Florence’s egocentricity and sexual neediness with great depth and gusto.
Fox brings passion, intensity and charm to the stage by the martini glass full. The climax in the last act beautifully shows both Kerry’s and David’s strength in their character roles and their electric on-stage chemistry.
Comic relief is provided by theatre and television star James Dreyfus, who plays a middle-aged queen. He scores laughs with his ability to deliver fierce one liners with a ultra dry demeanour.
The entire supporting cast of The Vortex are brilliant. Rebecca Johnson plays Florence’s frank friend who sheds light on Florence’s and Nicky’s problems, and offers support to both Nicky and Florence as they struggle to face reality. William Chubb beautifully plays Florence’s submissive husband who captures the pain of dealing with a nymphomaniac and self indulgent wife through the use of minimal lines and a plain personality.
Stephen Unwin’s revival is helped by Fin Walker’s dance arrangements, Peter Todd’s divine and decadent 1920’s costumes and Olly Fox’s period music choices that make even the audience want to get up and dance the Charleston. The superb Art Deco props designed by Neil Warmington are an absolute stand out. The big red lip invokes a touch of Angelina Jolie in the middle of Florence’s drawing room.
One of the only questionable elements of this production of The Vortex was the decision to include two intervals, even though it did give me two chances to get wine. The Vortex is a highly intense play and it seems that the multiple breaks severed the momentum of the intensity.
So, for a night that will have you dancing the Charleston, clinging to the edge of your seat and leave you contemplating a career change to guidance counsellor to offer moral support to Florence and Nicky, go and see The Vortex.
Until 2 March at the Rose Theatre Kingston. See www.rosetheatre.org.uk for further information and tickets.