Although Nöel Coward felt that the first night performance of Cavalcade in 1931 was shaky, the critics loved it. Some of the critical comments 'astounding', 'magnificent' and 'breath-taking' were incorporated into the advertising flyer. Yet Coward felt that the show had been misinterpreted. Far from being a jingoistic celebration of England, it was not uncritical, and used visual irony similar to that Joan Littlewood later incorporated into her production Oh, What a Lovely War. Cavalcade was produced at the time of a General Election and this added to the sense that Coward had written a rousing patriotic play. It aroused such nationalistic fervour that when King George V and Queen Mary came to see it, the audience spontaneously burst into the national anthem and the King was forced to make two appearances in the Royal Box to acknowledge the applause!
To get away from the frenzied atmosphere, Coward fled England for South America.