Noel Coward. Copyright: Jarvis and Ayres Productions.

The Better Half

BBC Radio 4 comedy drama. 1 episode in 2009. Stars Samuel West, Lisa Dillon and Federay Holmes.

Press Clippings

A recently discovered Noel Coward play, The Better Half, written when he was only 22, was an astonishingly mature account of the way a couple connived to kill their marriage. Working from Coward's unpublished manuscript, Martin Jarvis drew crisp performances from Federay Holmes, Lisa Dillon and Samuel West.

Moira Petty, The Stage, 1st June 2009

An intriguing Noel Coward playlet, never before performed in public as the Lord Chamberlain refused it a licence because of its racy theme. Alice (Federay Holmes) has been married to David (Samuel West) for six years yet she's not satisfied. "Maybe one desires something more than straightness, honesty and good looks," she tells her friend Marion (Lisa Dillon), before recommending Marion have an affair with David. Alice isn't in love with anyone else, just bored by David's reliability. And Marion confesses she's in love with him. What next?

Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph, 25th May 2009

Noel Coward's 1922 play was considered too racy for public consumption at the time, and was only rediscovered by researches in the British Library in 2007. Samuel West is David, in an unhappy marriage to Alice (Federay Holmes), who tries to persuade him to have an affair with her best friend Marion (Lisa Dillon). A curio rather than a masterpiece, it nevertheless contains some typical Coward dialogue.

Scott Matthewman, The Stage, 22nd May 2009

This one-act play by Noel Coward was thought to be lost, but was rediscovered in a collection of plays in the British library in 2007. It's by no means a masterpiece and some of the issues it covers are horribly outdated - a wife-beater shows he still loves his spouse, for he would not hit her if he did not care - but it does make up for this with deliciously wicked one-liners from Alice, the bored wife who wants to escape her loveless marriage. Federay Holmes obviously enjoyed playing Alice, while Samuel West and Lisa Dillon make the perfect worthy-but-dull husband and girlfriend.

Jane Anderson, Radio Times, 19th May 2009