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Noel Coward’s newly exhumed play Volcano promises much but - unlike Vesuvius - it does not deliver.

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Marketed very much as being based on the writer/actor’s exotic life in Jamaica with his glamorous friends, including James Bond writer Ian Fleming and actor Laurence Olivier, it should be riveting, instead it is flat and unengaging.

Central to the plot is the relationship between widow Adela Shelley (Jenny Seagrove) and ladies man Guy Littleton (Jason Durr). She is in love with him but doesn’t want to make love to him. He wants her - and anything else in a skirt. Durr does at least bring some joie de vivre to his role but Seagrove is as wooden as the set’s veranda - just an actress going through the motions. Perhaps it is meant to suggest hidden depths bubbling under the surface - like a volcano - but it is just monotonous.

Dawn Steele as Littleton’s bitchy wife Melissa and Finty Williams as jolly neighbour Grizelda Danbury are the most interesting to watch, bringing some life to a cast of mainly two-dimensional, cliched characters.

Despite the odd titter here and there the night we saw this at Bromley’s Churchill Theatre, there wasn’t much evidence of the self-proclaimed Master’s wit in evidence here and it is easy to see why this play was never performed in his lifetime.

It’s essentially about posh people drinking and smoking a lot, talking about their relationships in the garden of a house next to a volcano on a fictional Caribbean island.

Directed by Roy Marsden, of Inspector Dalgliesh fame, perhaps, again like a volcano of the title, it is meant to suggest that there is a lot more going on under the surface but, despite the odd rumbling, it never really comes to life.

The last exchange between Guy and Adela, just before the curtain comes down, sums it up.

Guy: “There is nothing more to say.”

Adela: “Not at all.”

Volcano is at Bromley’s Churchill Theatre until August 4 and then at London’s Vaudeville Theatre from August 14 to September 29

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