Noel Coward’s first produced play, The Vortex, premiered in 1924 in London, and its scandalous subject matter of drug abuse, repressed homosexuality, nymphomania, and Oedipal jealousy made Coward an overnight sensation. Combining the playwright’s trademark wit and trenchant one-liners, The Vortex surprises audiences with its climatic emotional showdown between a mother and son that evokes Hamlet.
This production of The Vortex is cleverly updated to the mod London of 1965: Nicky Lancaster brings his elegant fiancée, Bunty, home to introduce her to his famous mother, stage actress Florence Lancaster. Nicky is shocked to discover that Florence has taken a much-younger lover, and when Bunty ditches Nicky to run off with Florence’s boy-toy, mother and son are forced to confront the truth about themselves.
Director Gene Franklin Smith is the Artistic Director of Malibu Playhouse, and this production marks his debut as a director for the Playhouse. Of The Vortex Smith says, “Coward never really wrote another play quite like The Vortex again. He created a juicy role for himself, including drug abuse, repressed homosexuality, and Oedipal jealousy, knowing full well it would make him a star. The Vortex doesn’t sit on the same high Pantheon as Private Lives or Blithe Spirit, but it is far more contemporary than Coward’s other works, and you would swear it was written today and not 90 years ago.”
The powerful cast for The Vortex includes Shannon Holt (Florence), Craig Robert Young (Nicky), Will Carney (David), Victoria Hoffman (Helen), Daniel Jimenez (Tom), Skye LaFontaine (Bunty), and Cameron Mitchell, Jr. (Pawnie).
Of the play, producer Claudia Zahn says “The Vortex is full of Coward’s signature wit and playfulness, but what really touches me are his efforts to look beneath that glamorous facade and expose the fear and loneliness under the glittering surface.”
Shows are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 3 PM. Tickets are $30, and may be purchased through the box office, online at MalibuPlayHouse or by calling 323-960-7711. There may also be tickets available at the box office the day of each performance, however advance reservations are recommended.
Malibu Playhouse is located at 29243 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265 (near Zuma beach, between Kanan-Dume Road and Morning View Drive, near Heathercliff Road).