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Showing posts from March, 2017

Review: Design for Living (1933)

“Less is more” is a difficult balance to negotiate when dealing with proscribed subjects. There is always the concern that the illicit will no longer be as such if subjected to too much attenuation; or if the expression is couched in too abstract a language. Coarseness is at the nucleus of matters like sex and violence- attempt at over-refinement would be as ineffectual and absurd as giving a solemn speech to a table of revellers. In this case, less is definitely advisable, but only under the condition that it contains promises of the more.
As with Noel Coward’s Design for Living, there is barely any need for overexplicitness. The play centers on a ménage à trois in Paris 1932, during the period of Les années folles, or the “Crazy Years,” which saw the city’s artistic culture reaching an insuperable peak. Characters were drawn from real life: Coward indebted the play to his actor friends, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, whose long marriage was bedevilled by infidelities on both sides. T…