Pretty Polly

Except from Ben Slater’s post on from his blog

“By the mid 1960s, when (Noël) Coward’s only Singapore-set short story Pretty Polly Barlow was published in a collection of the same name, he was well past his prime. In plays and songs the louche, satirical and provocative polymath had tapped into an idiosyncratic sense of Englishness with immense popularity from the 1920s into the dark days of World War Two. During the ‘60s however, Coward’s new plays failed to catch the public imagination, but he remained an iconic presence on screen and stage, and his pre-war theatre successes were in constant revival, especially among expatriate theatre troupes in the crumbling and former colonies.

Pretty Polly Barlow is reputed to be one of his favourite stories. Though published in 1965 it’s likely that it was originally written (or at least sketched out) years before. It harks back, without nostalgia, to an earlier era of Singapore, the overheated British colony that Coward first visited in March 1930, during a round-the-world trip, exactly the kind taken by Aunt Eva and Polly in the story, except Coward was accompanied on his travels by his deceitful American lover, Jack Wilson.”

Read the full post here!

Pretty Polly will be screened at the NUS Museum on Wed, 18 March at 7pm.


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