Present Laughter – Theater Review
Considered by some to be Coward’s most autobiographical play, Present Laughter concerns an actor who takes Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night admonition* all too seriously, continually indulging his considerable appetite for wine, women and sleeping late. Might there be more to life than this?
Present Laughter is Noel Coward at his most sardonic but also somewhat verbose. This stars Victor Garber, who is of course wonderful, and an unbelievable set. It is in four scenes, three acts. If we cut out the middle two scenes, and the second act, we’d have a gem. As it is, the middle is just very tiresome, the story is of an ageing, egomaniac, narcissistic actor, (are those redundant terms?) who is being stalked by a wannabe playwright, his ex-wife, a woman who wants to become his mistress, a young ingenue, you get the idea, sort of stock characters. Some of them are better realized than others, the costumes are great, and as said, the set is terrific. But the middle act is just tiresome, we really didn’t need it at all. Everybody chews on the scenery and if slapstick isn’t your schtick i’d skip it, if it is, I’ll give this two/two and a half stars.