In Easy Virtue, John Whittaker brings home his new wife for the first time. Some years older than her husband, Larita is a woman of class, beauty and experience, with a worldview, we find, in stark contrast to the single-minded morality of her new sisters- and mother-in-law.
At first a tense truce reigns, but after a summer of boredom and mental lassitude, Larita is confronted with the facts of her past: scandalous according to her outraged in-laws; but mere truth to Larita, who refuses to be brow-beaten into hypocrisy by the priggish social system of her new relations.
In the introduction to Coward’s Collected Plays: One Sheridan Morley wrote: “Easy Virtue is essentially The Second Mrs Tanqueray brought up to date... What is intriguing about the play, apart from the light it throws on Coward as a craftsman working from the models of his immediate theatrical and social past, is the way it mocks the conventions, prejudices and complacencies of its period while remaining well inside the drawing-room barricades. No writer of Noël’s generation ever went more directly to the jugular of that moralistic, tight-lipped but fundamentally Twenties society.”
Easy Virtue was first performed in New York in 1926.