Stefan Bednarczyk premieres his new Noël Coward show at The Crazy Coqs. BEDNARCZYK SINGS NOEL COWARD includes songs from the 1940’s, verse and anecdotes from people who knew and worked with Coward, including Graham Payn, JudyCampbell and the late critic Sheridan Morley.
“Tributes to Noel Coward are performed everywhere, but …this one of the best you will see.”
Actor, musical director and cabaret performer Stefan Bednarczyk has premiered his new Noël Coward show at The Crazy Coqs. BEDNARCZYK SINGS NOEL COWARD includes songs, verse and anecdotes from people who knew and worked with Coward, including Graham Payn and the late critic Sheridan Morley.
Starting with the question “Why Must the Show Go On?”, Bednarczyk brings us a selection of Coward’s material, concentrating mainly on the work written in the late ‘30’s and 40’s, a period of his work often overlooked.
Some of the expected favourites are there, such as “The Stately Homes of England”, but particularly welcome is the inclusion of Coward’s poems, or as he called them, “verses”. Many of these were written simply for Coward’s own amusement, not intended for publication, and often contained pithy and scurrilous revelations of colleagues and friends, such as the sizzling “Personal Reminiscence”. Other writing tackled more serious and difficult subjects like war and death, including a chilling speech from his one-act play “Post Mortem”, that has resonance and relevance even today.
Bednarczyk’s recitations of these works are a masterclass in verse-speaking, embracing enjambed lines where the sense and breath follows from one line into the next, and using the rhythm and metre skilfully, avoiding the temptation to allow the speech to descend into prose.
Competently accompanying himself on the piano, his singing of patter numbers display all the clarity, speed and comic timing reminiscent of the Master’s own performances. Neither over-egged nor laboured, Bednarczyk captures both Coward’s essence and biting satirical quality.
In this well structured programme, similar subject –matter is kept together by juxtaposing items like “Don’t Put Your Daughter on the Stage, Mrs Worthington” and “The Boy Actor”, whilst still providing change of mood and pace. The first half includes many of the more funny pieces and leads us into the works written in Second World War, including the initially banned “Don’t Let’s Be Beastly to the Germans” and his anthem “London Pride”.
Part two is more thoughtful, sadder and sometimes darker, opening with the poignant “I Travel Alone” seguéing straight into the heart rending verse of self-examination “I Am No Good At Love”.
It is refreshing to see the inclusion of this questioning, reflective side of Coward’s work with its haunting remembrances of war, and considerations on Deity with his shifting uncertain unbelief. Peppered with stories from friends and colleagues, including the wonderful Judy Campbell, the show gives us a more rounded picture of the man than simply his much celebrated wit and “…talent to amuse”.
Tributes to Noel Coward are performed everywhere, but the meticulous pacing, crisp diction, command of vocal tone and, most importantly, judicious choice of material, makes this one of the best you will see.
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