Two Old QueensEdgar Metcalfe and John Michael Swinbank. Photos - Nigel Etherington

At the base of it all it’s relationships that count – whether you are a Queen or a queen. This is what is presented in this fine production of a well wrought play by John Senczuk about a redoubtable relationship of two flagships of Empire. Their mutual admiration, their rivalry - indeed their love - was nicely, humorously, charmingly and indeed respectfully portrayed by these two fine actors.

Edgar Metcalfe is superb as Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. His portrayal never falters, and by the end of the show one is hard put to believe it wasn’t really HM herself on the stage, and who one would be pleased to invite into one’s ordinary suburban living room, as long as there was plenty of gin to hand.

John Michael Swinbank is resplendent in white tie and tails as queen Noel Coward. But this portrayal was perhaps more floridly queenly than the probably bi-sexual Sir Noel was in life - perhaps more queer than queen, but who cares? His legacy and his wit were affectionately presented, showing him as an inveterate social climber, while intensely jealous of his contemporaries who were knighted years before him, an astute observer of the human condition, and a remarkable raconteur.

The play is peppered with Coward songs and quotes from Coward plays to titivate the cognoscenti, as it took a peek into the Private Lives of these two Blythe Spirits and their Bitter Sweet relationship. The Cavalcade of Words and Music hung together well, sensitively accompanied by Tim Cuniffe at the pianoforte. The audience is handed plenty of excuses for Present Laughter, as well as poignant moments in Mad about the Boy and I’ll See You Again.

This is a charming, amusing, respectful and nostalgic piece, elegantly written and acted, and well worthwhile. The audience could Sail Away with the feeling of having been to a Marvellous Party.

Adelaide Feast Festival

Venue: The Little Theatre | Adelaide University Union Building (Cloisters)
Dates: November 11 - 17
Tickets: $15.00 - $27.50
Bookings: 08 8225 8888 or

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