Amongst others, Noël Coward is said to have told aspiring actors that all they need to do is: 'To speak out the lines and do not bump into the furniture.' The amateur thespians in Alan Shelley's amusing new novel, Not so Private Lives, find it rather more difficult than the Master suggests. For their 25th Anniversary production, the Great Selsdon Amateur Dramatic Society decides to give their audience Noël Coward's Private Lives and the progress of this is recorded from the choosing of the play to the last night, through the process of the casting procedure, the first read-through, rehearsals, technical matters and a fateful dress rehearsal. The narrator describing these events is May Twining, a young lady with a passion for the theatre even though she suffers from a severe case of stage fright. Her account is a mixture of what actually happened together with a considerable amount of embroidery as she reveals the strengths and weaknesses of a fascinating cross-section of the members of the Great Selsdon Amateur Dramatics Society These include the Director, the mercurial Ambrose Percy, the society's two leading stars, Roger and Brenda Scotland, the Thurston Browns, the demure Ruth and the precocious Alison Street, who achieved the little fame she has because of her performance as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. The novel is also, in part, a tribute to the genius of Mr Coward.
About Alan Shelley
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Published July 9, 2009
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