‘This is Coward at his peak... the dialogue sparkles, the laughs come easily and Alex Jennings as Essendine holds the audience in the palm of his hand. A blissful night.' - Observer
'Terrific treats. A top-notch cast headed by an actor at the peak of his comic powers. Splendid performances all round. A singularly successful evening.' - Independent
At the centre of his own universe sits matinee idol Garry Essendine: suave, hedonistic and too old, says his wife, to be having numerous affairs. His line in harmless, infatuated debutantes is largely tolerated but playing closer to home is not. Just before he escapes on tour to Africa the full extent of his misdemeanours is discovered. And all hell breaks loose.
You have reached a moment in life when a little restraint would be becoming. You are no longer a debonair, irresponsible juvenile. You are an eminent man advancing, with every sign of reluctance, into middle age.
Noël Coward’s Present Laughter premiered in the early years of the Second World War just as such privileged lives were threatened with fundamental social change. Staged at the National for the first time, with Alex Jennings as Garry.