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In the Noël Coward spirit, let's reveal a dirty little secret: all theatre critics long to hear the immortal line 'So, we meet at last!' spoken on stage. Well, here's our chance.

Coward's 1956 play 'Volcano' is a tale of sexual misdemeanour and ill-repressed passion so ludicrous it makes 'Private Lives' look like kitchen-sink drama. Adela is a beautiful widow living alone on a fictional volcanic island, Guy is the married roué paying court to her – at least until her comely friend Ellen turns up with Guy's febrile wife.

So far, the volcano has remained dormant with occasional rumblings, and the fiery mountain seems to be behaving, too – but eruptions of all kinds are now inevitable.

Forgive my cheap lines: it's a cheap play, which may be why it was never performed – even in the 1960s, when Coward's reputation was revived. There are interesting discussions in here – of constancy and duty and marriage's other compromises – but they're suffocating in schlock. And while Dawn Steele and Finty Williams do good work, Jason Durr as Guy seems about as sexually dangerous as Kenneth Williams, and Jenny Seagrove's Adela is as cold

as Everest's peak.


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