Present Laughter


present-laughter-broadway-tickets-theatregold-heroTired of the Depressing Headlines? Looking for Something Fun? Get Tickets to “Present Laughter.”

We did just that over the weekend. “Present Laughter” — a revival of the Noël Coward classic — features a fine cast, led by a memorable performance by Kevin Kline, who is supported by a fine Kate Burton, a delightful Kristine Nielsen, and in a Broadway debut the charming (femme fatale) Cobie Smulders. The play is essentially a farce, but deals with the events over a few weeks in the life of an aging theater idol — Garry Essendine, played by Kline — as he prepares to go on tour in Africa. The play is set in Essendine’s house and it involves surprise entries, people in rooms behind closed doors, love interests and a peculiar but delightful domestic staff.

This is not a great play, but a very clever one and one will delight most in the audience. And it’s a play about a 60-something old overacting actor. Curiously Kline must be about the same age, and has enjoyed, like Essendine a memorable career, a parallel that is one of two (see below) that occurred to us. So Kline, essentially acting as himself, chews up the stage. What fun it must be to be a great actor who can overact because the play calls for it. Burton as Essendine’s wife is wonderful, Neilsen as his secretary is droll and just right for this play and Smulders, as a love interest, fills the bill in her debut. But the play is equally on show, it is funny, wonderfully written and full of the twists and turns that should be a feature of farce. We laughed a lot and so did the audience.

I was struck that the play, while set and written in 1939, opened in 1942 war-torn London. It must have been just what war-weary London needed. It’s equally worth seeing today and a fine play, but Kline — nominated for a well-deserved Tony — makes it a great experience

Martin McKerrow


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