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Play brings Noel Coward’s diaries to life for Romford audience

PUBLISHED: 16:22 05 April 2017 | UPDATED: 10:30 06 April 2017

Noel & Gertie

Noel & Gertie

Peter Clark

Noel Coward wrote some of the most popular British plays of the 20th century and now audiences will get to know a bit more about the man behind the words when a new musical comedy comes to Brookside Theatre on Friday.

Noel & Gertie Noel & Gertie

Sheridan Morley’s Noel and Gertie has been revived by director Matthew Townshend and tells the story of the real life relationship between the famous playwright and Gertrude Lawrence - who was a star of the Broadway and West End stage in the 1930s and ’40s.

Helen Power, 36, plays the role of Lawrence and spoke about the challenges of stepping into the shoes of a character that was a renowned musical theatre performer.

“The challenge is to be as truthful as possible and historically accurate,” said Helen. “What’s so great about this piece is it’s based on Noel Coward’s diaries.

“Because he was such a fantastic writer he gives great insight into Gertrude Lawrence’s character as well as his.

“There’s not much recorded material of Gertrude Lawrence, which causes some difficulties, but it allows me to put my stamp on this role.”

Helen describes the relationship between the pair as “quite volatile” as they often differed on a number of issues.

“They obviously adore each other but he has loads of eye-rolling moments about her being a diva at times and she at him about going around the world all the time.

“In some ways I guess she was jealous of his lavish lifestyle while she had to do the hard graft on the stage every night – but it is his work that has lived on because of his writing.

“She was more of a star in the theatre than he was, there’s plenty in the text where he is referring to her star quality.”

Another great aspect of the play, according to Helen, is that audiences go away having learnt more about the characters.

“I don’t think many people necessarily know Noel and Gertie as a stand alone piece but loads of people say ‘we love Private Lives and Blithe Spirit’.

“There’s so many bits that people will know and they will be familiar with a lot of the material.

“Some people didn’t even know they were friends, it’s a great piece giving people context.”

Noel and Gertie comes to Brookside Theatre, in Eastern Road, Romford, on Friday and begins at 8pm. To buy tickets, which cost £18, click this link.

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