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Episode 128: The Lives of NOEL COWARD, part 4

This is the fourth part of my interview with Oliver Soden author of the truly extraordinary new book MASQUERADE — THE LIVES OF NOEL COWARD.

41 mins



This is the fourth part of my interview with Oliver Soden author of the truly extraordinary new book MASQUERADE — THE LIVES OF NOEL COWARD.

In this episode we discuss Noel Coward’s life and career during the late 1930s including his amazingly provocative play DESIGN FOR LIVING and the bisexual love triangle at the center of it, as well as dazzling series of nine one act plays and musicals that make up TONIGHT AT 8:30 in which Coward and Gertrude Lawrence played a dazzling array of characters, and Oliver especially focusses on the surrealistic SHADOW PLAY.

Then Soden recounts Cowards secret and dangerous activities during the Second World War working as a spy for the British government — much of which he has uncovered and revealed in his book for the very first time. During this incredibly active period Coward also created the plays PRESENT LAUGHTER and BLYTHE SPIRIT and the classic films IN WHICH WE SERVE and BRIEF ENCOUNTER.

If you missed the first three episodes you may want to catch up with those before embarking on this one.

Oliver Sodon is a writer and broadcaster whose previous books include the critically acclaimed 2019 biography of composer Michael Tippett. Oliver’s writing on art, music and literature has appeared in the Guardian, Spectator, London Review of Books, and the Times Literary supplement, and he is a frequent guest speaker on BBC radio and television broadcasts.

Coward was without a doubt one of the most remarkable figures of the 20th Century and as you will hear Oliver and I had a great time talking about him. And it will be my pleasure to share that conversation with you over the next several episodes.

Critics have hailed this book and Oliver Soden as “Brilliant,” “Excellent,” “Illuminating,” Captivating,” “Definitive,” “fresh and original…a brilliant young writer,” “and emerging literary star.”

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