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Vortex, The

florence nicky play coward

a play by Noël Coward, performed in 1924. It tells of Florence Lancaster, a fading beauty who cannot accept the march of time, and her drug addict son, Nicky. She mixes with mostly idle, futile people, and neglects her husband, David, for younger and more glamorous admirers, the latest of whom is Tom Veryan. Nicky returns from Paris having just become engaged, but his fiancée, Bunty, rejects him for the less neurotic Tom; and Florence goes into a tantrum when she discovers her lover's disloyalty. The climactic scene comes in Florence's bedroom, with Nicky accusing her of ruining his father's life with her yearning for flattery, of neglecting him, and causing them both to ‘swirl in a vortex of beastliness’. The play ends with her promising to change and the two of them in each other's arms. Its relative candour won Coward great notoriety in its day; but critics now tend to dismiss it as a period melodrama.

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