In 1936, Noel Coward took nine single-act plays on tour, something Gyuri Sarossy, who stars in today’s adaptation, describes as “monstrous”.
Taking in a plethora of different genres, from farce to satire, from vaudeville to romance, Tonight at 8.30 flaunts Coward’s writing abilities to the extreme.
Plays include the chaotic Red Peppers music hall show, Ways and Means, the tale of a scheming debt-ridden couple, and Still Life, the original version of the film Brief Encounter.
The shows are divided into a trio of three plays in the first major UK revival of Coward’s marathon extravaganza.
Sarossy says: “It is such a monstrous thing, doing these nine plays - it is like the Royal Shakespeare Company doing all of the Henry VI’s.
“It is pretty full-on but the thing is that all of the parts are really well spread.
“Most of the audience have been turning up for the Saturday performance when we take on all nine plays in one day.”
Tonight at 8.30 was revived several years ago in Chichester but only six were performed.
Sarossy admits he does not fear comparisons being made to Coward’s original tour.
He says: “Well, everyone who saw that is now dead.
“I think what is being done now is very different to how Coward did it, it was very stylised and we are not stuck in museum piece style acting.
“It is much more committed than I think it would have been in his day.”
He says some scenes have caused so much amusement among the audience the cast have not been able to continue with the play immediately.
He says: “You just have to ride the laugh and obviously you don’t want to speak over them for the next line.”
Acting alongside Sarossy is Kirsty Besterman, Daniel Crossley, Amy Cudden, Shereen Martin, Olivia Poulet, Peter Singh, Orlando Wells and Rupert Young.
Director McIntyre says: “Tonight at 8.30 is a lost masterpiece, a celebration of writing and acting that builds to become a manifesto on how to live.
“The breadth of Coward’s vision and the depth of his humanity are staggering.
“Directing the Tonight at 8.30 sequence has been one of my lifetime ambitions and I’m thrilled to be working on it with Nuffield and English Touring Theatre.”
Tonight at 8.30; Richmond Theatre, the Green, Richmond; June 11-14; ticket prices £11.90-£32.40; for timings and tickets details, atgtickets.com/venues/richmond-theatre.