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Design for Living


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A: Noël Coward Pf: 1933, Cleveland, Ohio Pb: 1933 G: Com. in 3 acts S: Paris, London, and New York, 1930s C: 6m, 4fGilda is an interior decorator who has two lovers, the painter Otto Sylvus and the playwright Leo Mercuré. At first we see her with Otto, but when Leo comes back to her, Otto leaves in a fit of jealousy. When he returns, Gilda decides that she can take no more of the men's possessiveness and their jealous scenes, so she departs to New York to marry a conventional art dealer. The old friends and rivals Otto and Leo, united in their loss, decide two years later to pursue Gilda to America. When they turn up at her apartment, she is once again happy to share herself between her two lovers. Her infuriated husband stomps off, tripping over his canvases, while the threesome collapse in laughter.

A: Noël Coward Pf: 1933, Cleveland, Ohio Pb: 1933 G: Com. in 3 acts S: Paris, London, and New York, 1930s C: 6m, 4f

Once again, as in Hay Fever and Private Lives, Coward seems to champion the volatile and supercilious behaviour of the bohemian artist over the tedium of conventional unadventurous lives. By giving his play a title that implied that this was the proper way to live, Coward attracted considerable opprobrium in the 1930s, but the uproarious laughter at the end may in fact conceal an emptiness in the three main characters' search for fulfilment.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Authors

Noël Coward (1899—1973) playwright and composer


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