Present Laughter – Theatre Review

“Hilarity at its finest! The whole audience was laughing!” – Modish Male

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing Present Laughter, one of Noël Coward’s funniest comedies at the Theatre Royal Brighton where it stays until Saturday 13th August. The show stars two of the UK’s favourite actors Samuel West and Phyllis Logan.

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Phyllis Logan (Monica Reed) | Samuel West (Garry Essendine)

Samuel West probably best known for playing the role of Frank Edwards in all four series of ITV’s hit drama series Mr Selfridge has an extensive CV of theatre and screen credits and takes on the role of Garry Essendine a flamboyant, self-obsessed actor in this brand new production of Present Laughter. Teetering towards middle age Garry’s determined to disregard his advancing years by revelling in endless casual affairs. See how Garry attempts to disentangle the abundance of seductresses he has after him including his secretary, estranged wife and an obsessed young playwright!

His long and suffering secretary Monica Reed is played by Downton Abbeys favourite “Mrs Hughes” Phyllis Logan who I absolutely loved in Downton! Logan was voted by The Radio Times as their favourite character of the entire Downton series!

The first thing I noticed about Present Laughter was the remarkable stage set! An extravagant 40s manor house with all luxuries intact, from the Chesterfield settee to the decanter on the drinks tray, it’s a place I would truly love to call home!

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Theatre Royal Bath June 2016 Dress Rehearsal Present Laughter by Noel Coward

As well as the set, the costumes were brilliant! I left the theatre immediately wanting to go out and purchase a paisley robe to walk around in my house, smoking and sipping on a single malt whisky.

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Samuel West as Garry Essendine in one of his infamous robes

The relationship between Secretary Monica and Actor Garry is absolutely superb, having been by Garrys side for 17 years Monica knows everything about Mr Essendine, the good, the bad and the ugly. Monica isn’t shy about telling Garry exactly what she thinks, no matter how rude or crude this maybe, that’s what makes the relationship great!

Zoe Boyle who plays Joanna Lyppiatt the wife of Garry’s producer was one of my favourite characters, rich beyond belief and with no consideration for others, Joanna’s one liners are hilarious, and the way she dressed was exceptional. Boyle did a great job portraying this character.

Present Laughter was written by Noël Coward in 1939 and first performed in 1942. It’s a semi-autobiographical comedy about Coward and is set in the glamorous world of theatre. In the original run Noël Coward featured as the lead role, and over the past 70 years the play has been performed worldwide and the lead has been taken on by many actors including Albert Finney, Peter O’Toole and Ian McKellen.

Noël Coward died in 1973 at the age of 73 and remains as one of the worlds most distinguished and celebrated playwrights having written the hits Hay Fever, Private Lives and Cavalcade. He was also knighted in 1970 to become Sir Noël Peirce Coward.

To book tickets for this brand new production of Present Laughter at the Theatre Royal Brighton, please click here.


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