Review: Present Laughter By Noel Coward, Cambridge Arts Theatre

Present Laughter is on at The Cambridge Arts Theatre

Present Laughter is on at The Cambridge Arts Theatre - Credit: �Nobby Clark Photographer

Hugely entertaining and brilliantly written, this production of Noel Coward’s Present Laughter is a top notch show.

Present Laughter is on at The Cambridge Arts Theatre

Present Laughter is on at The Cambridge Arts Theatre - Credit: �Nobby Clark Photographer

Playing to a packed Cambridge Arts Theatre, a truly excellent cast deliver every one liner, every speech, every nuance, every cutting remark and every raised eyebrow with style and skill, poise and panache.

Set in 1939, the first-rate Samuel West plays the part of Garry Essendine, a fading star whose complex love life, addiction to melodrama, self-absorbed tantrums and blatant narcissism provide the backdrop to the action.

Assisted by his secretary Monica - played by the marvellous Phyllis Logan – Garry is preparing for a trip to Africa as lovers come and go, friends fall in and out, and the thin, brittle world of stardom is laid bare.

With a fabulous drawing room set, the play glitters and shimmers with humour as Garry’s inability to determine where the acting stops and real life begins has farcical consequences.

Present Laughter is on at The Cambridge Arts Theatre

Present Laughter is on at The Cambridge Arts Theatre - Credit: �Nobby Clark Photographer


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The supporting cast are of superlative quality, Zoe Boyle is superb as the predatory Joanna Lyppiatt as is Rebecca Johnson as Garry’s estranged-wife-who-knows-best Liz. Sally Tatum, as the scene-stealing chain-smoking maid Miss Erikson, is a charming crowd pleaser and Patrick Walshe McBride shines as the mentally deranged Roland Maule.

As Garry’s intimates demand his attention and time, this is a play about friendships, middle age, and the illusion of fame.

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But this is a comedy first and foremost and the laughs flow from start to finish.

Directed by Stephen Unwin, this is an excellent production of a brilliant play.

James Marston

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